A carp angler has suffered horrific burns after two gas canisters exploded in his bivvy.
Nick Webb managed to escape from his burning shelter but has been left with severe wounds on his hands and feet that could require skin grafts.
“I don’t have to close my eyes to see those flames and hear his screams, and those images will last a long time,” said friend and witness David Cobbold, who says the incident must serve as sobering warning to anglers about the importance of fire safety.
The explosion happened on Sunday evening as the pair fished a Suffolk syndicate venue. David had slipped into the water earlier in the day and was wrapped up in his sleeping bag when Nick ran into his swim at about 7.30pm.
He said: “Nick doesn’t remember any of this but he ran into my swim screaming that he’s on fire and asking me to get his mum and dad, who live nearby.
“I can remember the smells of flesh and the screams I heard.
“On his right foot his trainer had blown clean off and there was just remnants of a sock. On his right hand there was a lump of white flesh hanging off and his fingers were all white.
“He had two pairs of joggers and they had opened up above the knee. He’s since said it looked like he’d stood on an IED.”
Nick, who has no memory of what started the blaze and was seemingly asleep, was taken to hospital in Ipswich and later moved to Chelmsford burns unit. He has since been discharged but may still need skin grafts on his hands and feet.
David told Carpfeed: “The photo [below] was taken not 10 minutes after he came into my swim. I looked at his swim and there was no bivvy there, just an 8ft circular glow. The mattress of his bedchair had already gone, and all his kit, his phone, his wallet – everything had gone.”
David, who has been a carp angler for 30 years and has fished with 35-year-old Nick for a long time, added: “He has pretty much no recollection of it. He remembers me phoning for help and then being in the hospital about seven hours later.”
David said a half-full gas canister that had been in use had exploded, as had a full canister next to Nick’s bedchair. He said the tops off energy drinks cans in Nick’s coolbox had been ripped clean off.
“He’s very lucky, and he knows that. He’s a positive person and he’s counting his lucky stars because it all could’ve been a whole lot worse.”
David urged all anglers to be more conscious of fire safety in the wake of the shocking incident.
“We are all guilty of using a stove in our bivvies – it’s complacency, and we’ve all done it – but if this stops this happening to just one person then that’s the whole point of sharing it.
“Everyone gets complacent. I’ve seen gas stoves where seals have gone – it can happen to anyone. People boil a kettle or cook food in their bivvies and you’re never more than 18ins away from something flammable. And nothing in your fishing kit is fire retardant, it’s not like your mattress at home.
“It’s a sobering reminder to us all.”