Town rallies around Upstate man severely burned in gas can explosion

State - Regional

REIDVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Town of Reidville is rallying behind a man severely burned in a gas can explosion.

“We heard a big boom,” said Tonya Turner, Melvin Pittman’s daughter.

The unusual sound startled Turner.

“I said did that come from the front? And somebody said yeah,” Turner told 7News. “It took me about 2 seconds to realize my daddy was back there.”

That sent Turner running through the woods behind her house to check on her dad.

“By the time we got to where we could see he was on fire. His whole body,” she cried.

Turner immediately called 911 but says she didn’t know how to begin to help her dad who was struggling to put out the flames.

“We got him to the hospital in time. The doctors said his airways were closing up,” she said.

Reidville Town councilwoman Vickie Pittman is the victim’s wife. The couple owns a tree service in town. Pittman believes before the explosion her husband was preparing to burn brush like he’s done many times.

“[But] the gas can exploded,” she told 7News.

It nearly engulfed her husband in flames.

“70 percent of his body was burned up. 60 percent of it was third-degree burns,” Turner said.

Pittman is currently hospitalized at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.

His family tells 7News he’s in a medically induced coma.

Mayor Pro Tem Gregg Gowan says the Pittman’s have always served the Town of Reidville.

“You gotta know Melvin to appreciate him,’ Gowan told 7News. “He’s an outgoing fellow. He doesn’t meet any strangers and loves to talk.”

Now the community is returning the favor.

People have donated food gift cards and some have even made get well soon cards.

Above all this family is asking for prayers.

“The most important thing is petitioning before the Lord to do what he does best,” Christine Mckaba, a close family friend, told 7News.

Pittman has already undergone 2 surgeries and is expected to have many more over the next 3 months.

Donation can be dropped off at Reidville Town Hall located at 7304 Reidville Road between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday – Friday or please call 864-486-9614.

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