Trying to burn an old, damp piece of weed-blocking fabric at his Buffalo Township home, Anthony DeLong soaked it in diesel fuel, let it sit a few minutes and grabbed a lighter.
The fabric exploded into flames, catching Anthony on fire in the process. He put his hands over his face, dropped and rolled until the fire was out and then went looking for his wife, Cindy.
“He came into the house and said, ‘Help me.’ His nose was bright red. His clothes were dirty and shredded and his skin was falling off his hands in sheets,” she remembered.
“I couldn’t figure out how he looked so injured, yet wasn’t bleeding.”
The incident happened on Saturday, May 26, and Anthony was taken from the local emergency room to the Lehigh Valley Burn Unit with 23 percent of his body — on the face, hands, arms and chest — covered in second and third degree burns.
“He was very calm through it — he’s very tough,” Cindy said. “But, I could tell from his eyes that it was starting to get to him before the hospital put him in a medically induced coma.”
Anthony received his first surgery on Thursday, preparing his body for skin grafts that will likely happen within the next week.
“There are so many setbacks they are concerned about: Infections, blood clots, pneumonia and potential complications from what will likely be many surgeries and skin grafts,” she said. “It is getting a little overwhelming for me. I wonder when I’ll ever be able to hug my husband again or even hold his hand. I can’t even pat his shoulder because I don’t want to hurt him.”
The couple has received quite a bit of support since the accident, according to Cindy, including prayer from their church, Christ Wesleyan near Milton, and help from family and friends.
“One of our neighbors cleaned up the accident site,” Cindy said. “People are helping occasionally with chores my husband did. Our twin daughters work at David’s Awesome Cookies and Pretzels and their work has helped us a lot.”
Cindy has been advised to start an online funding campaign to help offset what will likely be a large number of medical expenses over the coming months.
“We have insurance, but it doesn’t cover everything,” she said.
For more on how to help, search on Facebook for the “Anthony’s Burn Recovery” fundraiser or go directly to the site via www.facebook.com/donate/614003489084798/10158203816287835