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Buna volunteer firefighter burned after bonfire explosion
BUNA-By: Leslie Rangel
A volunteer firefighter from Buna is recovering in a hospital from burns that cover more than a third of his body.
James Ray, a 52-year-old Buna man, poured diesel fuel on a bonfire at a family gathering New Year's Eve.
The fuel exploded and the fire severely injured Ray.
Te family shared their story and warned others about how it could have been prevented
"My mother in law, me and my children were sitting in these chairs here," Tamera Ray, James Ray's daughter says.
Ray remembers a chilly New Year's Eve night, waiting for a bonfire to ring in the New Year.
"He went to pour the diesel out and when it did,it blew him back," Ray remembers.
Her father poured diesel on the fire.
"It exploded and all I can remember is my father in law screaming, James," Ray says.
It's the first time she's been back to the site since the incident and memories flashback.
"Just the loud boom and it kind of blew us back a little bit," Ray said.
A shattered gas can still lies where it landed after the explosion.
"It had pushed him completely back and he was just laid out in the ground, trying to get the fire off," Ray says.
Ray's family threw the burning shirt he was wearing that painful new year's eve night about twenty feet from the explosion site.
Scraps of fabric are the only thing left of a work shirt he was wearing.
"They landed life-flight in our pasture and took him from there," Ray says.
The ten year volunteer firefighter suffered burns to thirty five percent of his body from his face to just above his knees.
"To see him in so much pain and hear him cry because they're shaving him or they're fondling him too much, it's hard because all you can do is sit there and watch and there's nothing you can do," Ray says.
But, she's warning others this accident could've been prevented.
"Don't think, 'oh it won't happen to me,' don't be like I did, oh it's not going to happen to me especially with my dad being a fireman. You have to be careful and protect your loved ones," Ray warns.
A family holding their loved ones close, ready to build a stronger new year.
Ray is expected to remain in the hospital for at least another month.
There are several benefits planned to help raise money for his medical bills.
The first will be in Nederland Saturday, January 18th at the Nederland Hardware Store hosted by RCI, the company where Ray worked.
The following Saturday, Ray's family will have a brisket plate and link sale in Buna at the main red light on Hwy 96 beginning at 10:30 a.m.
The last will be held at the Honky Tonk in Silsbee from 8 to 5 in the evening.
There will be a live auction, bake sale, live music and families with children are encouraged to attend.
Fore more information you can check out the "Pray for James" Facebook page here.