JAMES CITY - A James City-Bruton volunteer firefighter is home after being hospitalized Wednesday when a tire exploded while he was putting out a blaze off Jolly Pond Road. His department credits protective gear with preventing more serious injuries.
"It blew him backward about twenty-five feet," spokesman Billy Apperson said. "It blew his fire coat completely off, just shredded it."
The accident happened at about 3 p.m. Wednesday in the 2700 block of Jolly Pond Road. James City-Bruton Volunteer Fire Department was responding to a report of a fire there, assisting James City Station No. 5, which had trouble crossing the bridge to the site.
James City sent a tanker, engine and brush truck to the muddy site, where a log skidding tractor had caught fire, Apperson said. He said firefighter Kevin Young was on the nozzle of one fire hose, working to extinguish the fire when one of the large tires in the tractor exploded as a result of the heat.
Thrown back by the explosion, Young recovered quickly and returned to combating the blaze, but soon realized he was injured, according to Apperson. He said Young suffered shrapnel wounds to his legs and upper body.
Apperson said Young was taken to Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center where he was treated for cuts and bruises, but was not kept at the hospital. Young said Friday he returned to the fire station briefly later that day to let everyone know he was OK.
Fire department officials agree that Young would likely have sustained much more serious injuries if his protective coat hadn't shielded him from the blast, according to Apperson. He called the gear, which costs $2,500 per firefighter, "well worth the expense."