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Friends of injured Slave Lake man hopes community comes together to help
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton
Published Monday, February 25, 2013 4:57PM MST
Last Updated Monday, February 25, 2013 6:45PM MST
Friends of a Slave Lake man injured after a recent trailer fire are hoping the community will come together to help the man on his road to recovery.
Myles Rideout, 30, has a long road of him, after the trailer he was sleeping in caught fire earlier this month.
Rideout is originally from Newfoundland and had been working in Slave Lake for six years.
Co-workers say the trailer was supposed to be a temporary home for Rideout, but due to a housing shortage in the community, he ended up staying there for months.
It was there that Rideout was injured after the trailer caught fire on Feb. 1.
"Myles woke up at about 4 a.m. in the morning and he could hear crackling outside his door,” said Rideout’s friend and co-worker Kimmy Eben-Ebenau.
Eben-Ebenau says Rideout tried to open the door but it was locked.
“He kind of let out one of those ghastly screams, like you would see in a movie,” Eben-Ebenau said. “Either ‘I have to get out or I'm going to die.’”
“That thing had already gone to full inferno by the time he had to run through it,” described Ed Nash, Rideout’s boss and owner of JE Nash Enterprises.
“He’s burning his hands trying to open it, there’s so much smoke he can’t breathe.”
Rideout had to kick down the door and run through a wall of flames in order to get out.
“As soon as he opened the door black smoke poured into his fifth wheel,” Eben-Ebenau said.
“The ceiling above was blue styrofoam insulation, so it was dripping down like rain drops so he had that all over his back, plus he’s standing on all that molten, burning, styrofoam. If things had changed by a split second one way or the other he probably would have taken a breath of smoke and fell down there and that would have been it,” Nash said.
Co-workers say when Rideout got out and realized he was on fire, he rolled on the ground until it was out – then rushed to find help before being taken to hospital.
Burns to 30 per cent of his body
Rideout suffered second and third-degree burns to 30 per cent of his body including his legs, back and head. For nearly a month, he had to undergo skin graft surgeries.
“He had skin grafts taken from his lower region and his upper thighs to cover the burns on his arms, legs, feet and back. He’s been through a lot of skin grafts. He’s been through an immense amount of pain and trauma,” Eben-Ebenau said.
John McDermott, deputy fire chief for the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Service, says in these cases, timing is everything, and Rideout was fortunate to wake up when he did.
"He's definitely lucky to have survived with the injuries he sustained from this fire,” McDermott said.
“The fire was in a stage we call ‘rollover’, so the fire was actually on top, rolling on the ceiling, and dropping down on him.”
Rideout is currently an outpatient at the University of Alberta’s burn unit, where he’s undergoing both physical and psychological rehabilitation.
“The scar maturation process can take six months to two years and then there's the long-term dealing with the scars and sometimes the limitations that they present as far as physical but more often emotional issues that can go along with a traumatic injury such as a major burn,” says Dr. Tim Rigel, a plastic surgeon with the burn treatment unit.
“He’s certainly going to have skin graft scars. Certainly, all of our patients have issues with psychological, just from the trauma from the fire and burning event that’s traumatic, and then going through the treatment process is difficult and getting used to your new body.”
Trust fund and fundraisers
While Rideout deals with health problems, his friends are hoping to help assist in other ways.
His trailer and its contents were not insured.
A trust fund has been set up to try and help Rideout get back on his feet once he’s out of hospital.
“People are ready to help but if they don’t know help is needed, they can’t do anything,” Nash said.
"He's just an absolute joy to be around and he does so much for everybody around him. He's just a selfless human being,” Eben-Ebenau said.
A fundraiser is also planned at a local curling rink at the end of the month, with another fundraiser planned at a golf course in the spring.
It is Eben-Ebenau and Nash’s hope that the community – which has already been through so much with the Slave Lake wildfires, can come together again to help one of their own.
“2011, how many people lost their homes? They can relate to what he went through,” Nash said.
“(It’s) maybe not as painful, but the part of losing everything you own and starting with absolutely nothing."
It’s still unclear how the fire started.
Donations can be made to the Myles Rideout trust fund at RBC account #5125570.
With files from Veronica Jubinville