As a paramedic worked to insert an IV into Colin Christensen’s arm charred by second-degree burns, he asked, “Am I going to die?”
“He used an alcohol swab and all of my skin came off,” Christensen said, remembering the moments after a flash fire engulfed him at Bluffton’s Fat Patties on July 5.
Nick Borreggine, owner of Fat Patties, previously said the fire is believed to have started when gas in a stove’s burner built up and traveled to another appliance next to it, causing a flash fire when the pilot light on the second appliance was ignited.
A report from the Bluffton Township Fire District says the fire was caused by “human error” due to “lack of maintenance on equipment.”
Christensen said he doesn’t know where the fireball came from. He says he turned for just a “second” to grab a ticket and when he turned back around a wall of fire surrounded him.
“I closed my eyes and ran away and stopped, dropped and rolled,” Christensen said.
It wasn’t long before the paramedics arrived, Christensen said. He said it felt like forever but witnesses have told him it took three to four minutes. It was in the following moments that Christensen started realizing the intensity of the situation.
It wasn’t long after that he asked the paramedic if he was going to die.
“If you keep fighting, then no,” Christensen said the paramedic told him.“That was all I needed to hear. I was like, ‘Word, I will keep fighting.’”
On Saturday, Christensen sat in his apartment with bandages covering his legs, arms, fingers, stomach and chest. Blotches span across his face and a third-degree burn covers his nose. A timeline for recovery is unknown, he said.
The pain is continuous, Christensen said.
“You have to constantly remind yourself that things are going to be OK,” Christensen said, a sign that the fight continues.
Christensen knows what it feels like to fight. One year ago exactly from the day of the fire, he laid in a hospital after overdosing on Xanax, he said Saturday.
“I had overdosed and actually died,” Christensen said. He said it was Fat Patties that helped him turn his life around.
It had been just a month from the overdose when Fat Patties decided to hire him.
“They took me in,” Christensen said. “They gave me that opportunity. No one wants to hire a kid who was just in the hospital.”
Christensen said he is pulling from the strength he used to overcome his addiction to endure the challenge he now faces — a challenge that he says he is facing without many of the drugs that caused the addiction.
The hardest part is the setback the injury has caused him, Christensen said .
“I don’t like to burden people,” Christensen said. “I just moved out of my parent’s house. I am trying to be an adult. I was able to pay my bills and now I can’t eat on my own.”
But he said Saturday, he knows one day he will be able to support himself again.
The plan — culinary school.
“You have to keep that mindset,” Christensen said.