Rachel Cooper, a grandmother from Rotherham, England, was left with severe burns on her face and chest after a lighter exploded in front of her and her granddaughter.
According to Caters, Cooper was lighting memorial candles at home in honor of her late parents when the lighter violently shattered. She was then covered in lighter fluid, which set her on fire. Luckily, the grandma was able to extinguish the flames by wrapping herself in her granddaughter’s blanket.
“All my skin came off. I was really scared about my face, lips and nose as it felt like my lips were going to stick together,” she told Caters. “I just had this horrible burning sensation and the smell was terrible.”
Cooper had found the lighter when clearing out her mother’s home after her death. She explained how a paramedic noticed how the lighter has a battery in the bottom and switch to turn it on to illuminate it.
“The battery in the lighter is probably what blew up, causing a crack where the lighter fluid escaped just as I pressed the button to light the candle,” Cooper said.
When Cooper arrived at the hospital, she was unable to talk and doctors were concerned her airway was swollen. “I have never screamed like that in my life, from being set on fire to getting in the shower I was screaming,” she said.
After a two-day hospital stay, her voice returned and she no longer needed an operation.
While Cooper was clearly distraught, she said that the worst part was seeing her three-year-old granddaughter Ava watch the whole incident. “The hardest part for me is knowing little Ava saw everything that happened and she has been telling people, ‘Nana went bang and was burning,'” she said.
Although it’s unknown exactly what brand/type of lighter it was, Rotherham Borough Council’s Trading Standards officers in the UK are calling it a novelty lighter (because of it’s unusually large size and the fact that it lit up). These are illegal throughout Europe, however Cooper said she was not aware of those warnings. “I would not expect shops to sell them if they were not allowed — I see them everywhere,” she said. “But what happened to me just proves why they shouldn’t be on sale.”