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Explosion at West Hall injures two

By Adam Fenwick
Around the Campus Editor
Electronic News Editor

One university staff member was transported to the UNC Chapel Hill Burn Center and another to Southeastern Regional Medical Center Oct. 5 after a propane explosion in the West Hall boiler room. 

Derek Brewer of Maxton and Greg Harris of Red Springs were doing routine maintenance work when a flash propane explosion occurred, according to Scott Bigelow, associate director of the office of communications and photographic services.

Brewer was transported by helicopter to the UNC Chapel Hill Burn Center.  According to Bridget Jones of the Physical Plant, Brewer received external burns on his face and chest as well as internal burns within his lungs.

Brewer has since been released from the UNC Chapel Hill Burn Center and is now recovering at home.  He has been advised by his doctors not to go out in the sun while his burns are healing.

“Our prayers are with Derek Brewer and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery,” Bigelow said.

Brewer was conscious when doctors examined him and they rated his injuries as a 3 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst case, according to Jones.

Harris was transported to the Southeastern Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released at 6:30 p.m. the same day with minor bruises and no burns.  He returned to work Oct. 9.

The incident occurred at 3:45 p.m. Oct. 5. 

University Police and nurses from the on campus infirmary responded at 3:55 p.m. 

Harris and Brewer remained face down while the nurses tended to them. 

At 4:10 p.m. two ambulances from the Robeson County EMS arrived at the scene.                                               

Brewer was loaded into the first ambulance while holding a bandage over his face at 4:15 p.m. 

At around 4:23 p.m. a helicopter from the UNC Chapel Hill Burn Center appeared over top of Pine Hall and then landed at on the Lumbee Guaranty Bank Field at 4:28 p.m. 

While the helicopter was landing, the ambulance carrying Brown drove from the scene to the field.

At 4:43 p.m. emergency crews from both the Robeson County EMS and the UNC Chapel Hill Burn Center transported Brewer from the ambulance to the helicopter.

The helicopter took off at 4:45 p.m.

Brewer was completely covered in a white sheet and rescuers were using a hand pump respirator on him while he was being transported to the helicopter from the ambulance.

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Updated: Friday, October 20, 2006
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