- Spencer Beach, from Kentucky, U.S, endured a horrific accident at work in 2003
- A flash fire left the former flooring technician with third and fourth degree burns
- Since his near death experience, Spencer has gone on to become safety speaker
A man who nearly burned alive in a horrifying fire has revealed the incredible moment he was inspired to fight through his trauma and help others.
Spencer Beach, 49, was turned into a human fireball when a blaze erupted on a house he was working on in Edmonton, Kentucky in the U.S.
The dad was laying down flooring when flames ripped through the home setting him on fire for 20 agonising seconds and leaving 90 per cent of his body covered in third and fourth degree burns.
On the fateful day in April 2003 Spencer had been spending several days removing linoleum from a home under construction, reports The Safety Magazine.
During his third day on the call out, the technician only had the laundry room and another half of the bathroom left to finish. He had considered calling in sick that day, but chose to get the rest of the job done.
While working on his hands and knees, ripping up the linoleum, Spencer suddenly heard a loud whistle and a bang, before a flash fire that spread quickly engulfed the entire house while the technician was still inside.
While one fire, Spencer attempted to open the front and back doors, but due to the fire sucking up all the oxygen, the handles wouldn’t budge.
Running to the garage, he made a final attempt to open the only available door, but it wouldn’t open.
After 20 excruciating seconds of being set aflame, Spencer collapsed onto the ground, fighting for his life.
But as the heat and pain disappeared and time stopped, he thought of his wife and unborn child, he summoned the strength to get up and pull the garage door open.
Miraculously, Spencer managed to flee the burning property and survive the flash fire – but not without agonising life-changing injuries and damage to his body.
While at the hospital, the then dad-to-be learned he had third and fourth degree burns on 90 percent of his body – and was told he had a five percent chance of living.
After being placed in a coma for six weeks and undergoing over six surgeries, Spencer was completely immobile when he woke up, as the scar issue had deeply set in.
Spencer recalls being ‘100 percent useless’ as his lungs were severely burned and had steel holding each of his fingers together.
He had one tube going to his stomach to feed him and another in his mouth to simply breathe – he could not even call for nurses or change the channel on the TV.
Spencer quickly developed depression, followed by anxiety and then hallucinations – before the survivor knew it, he began thinking of ways to kill himself.
Then, five months later, Spencer’s wife, Tina, gave birth to their first child, a baby girl named Amber.
He said: ‘That was the first day I fought the pain, just to hold my daughter.
‘What happened holding my daughter was that was the first day I looked outside of myself. That was the first day in five months I stopped feeling sorry for me.’
While going through therapy during recovery, Spencer met many people who had been injured while on the job, and they would exchange stories of how the incidents happened.
A common theme arose in these discussions – ‘bad’ practices and a lack of following PPE and safety guidelines while at work.
Spencer said: ‘They would say, “I didn’t think it was going to happen, I didn’t see it coming, no one told me. I didn’t fill out my forms, I didn’t wear my PPE, I didn’t pick up the hazard.”‘
On the day of his incident, Spencer recalled grabbing onto the red-hot door handles with his bare hands – while his gloves were in his vehicle.
He said: ‘Those gloves would have helped me hold on to those handles longer, try a little harder.
‘And what if they were to help me get out a little faster? That would have reduced the burns to the rest of my body.’
Now, Spencer has turned his ‘wounds into wisdom’ and has gone on to become a motivational and safety awareness speaker, making a successful living touring around North America to deliver around 100 presentations per year.
Spencer regularly speaks at presentations about what happened to him and encouraging workers and employers to learn from his mistakes.
‘It’s in your hands if you are going to come to work impaired. It’s in your hands if you’re going to use your PPE. It’s in your hands if you’re going to be in a hurry and rush and disregarding safety,’ he told Safety Magazine.
When Spencer was working at the home in Edmonton two decades ago, he used a shortcut.
His employer had developed a quicker method for removing linoleum where a compact thinner is poured onto the floor.
It seeps into the backing of the linoleum, reactivating the glue, and the flooring peels off. It saves both time and money, but it comes with one fault – it is explosive.
Had his employer required its workers to remove the flooring the proper, longer way, Spencer’s tragic incident could have been prevented. But Spencer still partially blames himself, and insists he won’t be ignoring alarm bells again.
He said: ‘I had a feeling removing flooring with that chemical wasn’t right, but I failed to listen to my gut feeling. By not listening to myself and doing nothing to control that hazard my gut was warning about, I effectively did nothing to control the risk.’
MailOnline have contacted Spencer’s representative for further comments.
In April 2013, a builder in China survived an horrific accident which saw a foot long metal bar impaled in his head.
Jin Hongping was working in the city of Linxia in northwest China’s Ganua province, when the 40 cm bar dropped from a height and went through his skull.