Family hospitalized, home destroyed after fireJun 5th, 2012 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: news
The intense heat sticks out in Shannon Callais’ mind.
Her oldest son came in from the garage to tell his mom that younger brother Avery was playing in there. When she turned towards the garage door, she remembers an orange glow and the intense heat.
The Belle Chasse house on Schleif Drive was old and leans, so when a full gas can fell over starting a flash fire, the ignited gasoline drifted towards the hotwater heater.
Shannon remembers her mother Sheila Callais screaming and getting the other children out of the house into the back yard. Something happened when Sheila opened the door, pressure within the home relieved, or cooler air from outside toned the heat down. Whatever it was, Shannon knew this was her moment to find Avery.
“My child was in there screaming,” explained Shannon. “I didn’t have a choice.”
It was hard to see anything, but the mother called out for her son, and the boy came towards her voice. The three-year-old’s shorts were on fire. She grabbed him and at that same moment there was an explosion. They were knocked down, almost out of the door.
Quickly she got her son to the back yard with the rest of her family, and put out the fire on his clothes.
Clutching her badly burned child, the family retreated to a neighbors front yard. By chance an off-duty EMT was passing by. He stopped and took charge of the family in shock. He took Avery out of Shannon’s arms and cut off his clothing and diaper. He instructed Shannon that even though she wanted to hold and comfort him, that it was best for Avery to let him sit without anything touching him until the paramedics arrived. His skin was so badly burned that it was hanging off in pieces. When the ambulance arrived, he carried Avery to the ambulance. Shannon says she wishes she knew who he was so she could thank him.
They went to University Hospital, where doctors cleaned the wounds. But city hospitals do not admit patients with burns over 30 percent of their body; Avery had burns over 60 percent. They were airlifted to Shriner’s Hospital in Galveston, which specializes in burns.
To date, Avery has undergone three skin graphing surgeries, and a fourth is scheduled. Shannon, who sustained first and second degree burns, says she expects to say in Galveston for another month-and-a-half to two months.
Avery is doing well, both physically and emotionally.
“The doctors are amazed that he’s healing so quickly,” Shannon said. And despite the pain he feels when he moves, Avery’s personality is shining through, asking to play and talking to the nurses and doctors.
“I thank God every day that he is in that bed,” said Shannon, injured but alive.
On the homefront, the multi-generational household lost everything, but there has been an outpouring of donations– clothing, shoes, toys, money and especially temporary housing in Belle Chasse. But the family is still in need of household cleaning products and bedroom sets.
“I am overwhelmed by the support of the Parish I live in,” emphasized Shannon.
A donation account has been made at Whitney Bank, under Bommarito and Callais Family, or call Chelsey Ragas at 504.920.4824 or Mallory Marquette 970.270.4811.