Matison Long, a 21-year-old woman from Hawks Prairie, is recovering from burns at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, her grandfather and guardian Joe Markus said Tuesday.
Her face and hair were only partly singed, but her arms, particularly her right arm, was severely burned, he said. Still, she is coherent and can get up and move around.
“I think she realizes it could have been a lot worse,” he said.
Long and a friend, Corey Day, had pulled over in the 3000 block of Hogum Bay Road Northeast in Lacey early Saturday evening to sit and talk and enjoy their Taco Bell meal. That’s when Long, sitting in the driver’s seat, decided to move the power seat back.
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Suddenly, there was the sound of a “pop” and she found herself enveloped in flames. Day helped her out of the car and ordered her to roll on the ground, Markus said.
Two off-duty firefighters emerged from a nearby business and poured water on her arms, he said. Emergency services responded and Long was flown to Harborview.
The fire is thought to have ignited when the power seat punctured a pressurized can of de-icer, the kind of product used to keep a windshield from icing up during cold temperatures.
Most people don’t give that product a second thought, Markus said, but he wants to warn drivers to be careful and not just toss that kind of item into your vehicle.
“I didn’t realize how flammable it is,” Markus said.
Lacey Fire District 3 responded to the fire on Saturday. Fire Chief Steve Brooks said pressurized cans, such as aerosol cans, should be properly stored in the trunk of a vehicle, or in a cargo or compartment space.
“Only put it in a safe location,” he said.
Markus learned of the fire when he was driving home from Portland on Saturday. He got a phone call from Day, but Day was so upset Markus could barely make out what he was saying.
Once Markus understood, he continued driving to Harborview in Seattle.
The best-case scenario is that Long will be released from the hospital on Friday, but he thinks it will take another week to 10 days before she gets to go home, Markus said.
“She’s grateful she’s still here, but the pain is not going to go away for a while,” he said.