Mum describes escaping being blown into a gas blast she didn’t smell because she had Covid
A mother miraculously escaped through her collapsed chimney after a huge gas explosion leveled her home.
Tamara McLean couldn’t smell the propane leak in her home because she had Covid. She was on the last day of her quarantine.
That Maine The mother and special education teacher, 45, said she could hear her hair sizzle and feel her face and body burned to a crisp.
McLean accidentally triggered the leak while putting clothes in a dryer.
Tamara, 45, is pictured holding a giant teddy bear at Portland Medical Center, ME, during her recovery
Ms McLean returned to her home in Embden, Maine, only to find it completely destroyed
Little did she know that a leak filled the house with propane. Shortly after she pressed the dryer button, her house exploded.
Happier times: Tattooed mum Tamara is pictured at home ahead of the horrific gas explosion
Tamara said: “I had Covid so I couldn’t smell, couldn’t taste and it was my last day of quarantine so I headed out with my friends.
“I pushed the dryer button and was on my way upstairs from my basement when an explosion went off.
“It threw me back but I was holding onto the wall trying to figure out what had happened because you don’t get that feeling every day – it’s like a hot draft going through you.
“I could hear my hair sizzle and I was burned. I could feel my face and arms burned, but I just didn’t realize how much capacity it had.
Ms McLean added: “I started seeing parts of my house falling which were set on fire so I ran up the stairs and ran outside.
“I didn’t look around because my main focus was getting out, but my house was obviously blown up. I was in survival mode, my state of mind was “I need help now”.
McLean felt the second-degree burns on her back and arms as soon as the blast took place
Tamara said the blast was so violent that parts of the house were knocked over near trees
“My door was already blown open and I had to jump over my chimney which was blown up.”
McLean spent a month getting her severe burns treated in a specialist unit
Tamara managed to get in her car and drive 4.2 miles to the nearest fire station, from where she was flown to the intensive care unit.
Second-degree burns covered nearly a third of her body.
Shocking photos show how the blast destroyed her home and left a smoldering pile of rubble around a burned-out shell – while Tamara lay in the burns department with horrific wounds.
The special education teacher has been undergoing treatments on her skin for nearly a year since the blast on October 15 last year.
Tamara, from Embden, Maine, said: “I got in my car – I had left my keys in the car because I live in a small town – I pressed the 911 button and drove 4.2 miles to the fire station and that’s where I got help.
“When it first happened, I don’t know if I was in so much pain because I was in shock.”
Tamara spent a month recovering in the burns unit at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Doctors cleaned and dressed the second degree burns on her face, arms, feet and back. A week later, they stapled synthetic skin over the raw skin to close their wounds.
Doctors spent weeks cleaning and bandaging the burns on Tamara’s face (pictured in the unit).
After a miraculous recovery, the mother was released from the hospital only to find that her home and all her belongings had been completely destroyed in the blast.
Tamara said: “When you are in such a gas explosion and it goes through your body, your insides actually burn.
“You have about four to six hours to be intubated or you won’t make it because your insides are burned and swollen.
“The pain is intense. The only way I can explain it is that you have a huge open wound and you have sandpaper and salt water and you scrub. To be honest, there is no comparison.
Tamara, pictured before the accident, said her identity was changed by the sad event
“My daughter said they changed my bandages once and it took over four hours because they had to take frequent breaks because the pain was so bad.
“My home is completely gone. It blew so far and so hard it knocked down trees in the forest.
“There was nothing left, not even a toothbrush. It was just gone..’
After being discharged from the hospital, Tamara had to return to weekly check-ups, which were eventually reduced to once a month. To this day, she has regular appointments.
She is scheduled to start laser treatment on the worst affected area of her body later this year. Severe burns on her arms caused contractures, uncomfortable skin tightness, and limited mobility.
In addition to the health effects, Tamara has struggled with the emotional toll of changing her physical appearance, having lost all her hair in the blast and left scars from her burns.
Not even a toothbrush was left after the massive gas explosion in October last year
Tamara said: “I have to massage my arms every day because that’s where I get the most burns and I can’t be in the sun.
“I have a piece of clothing with silicone inside that goes up to my shoulder on one side and my elbow on the other that I have to wear except when I’m showering or washing.
‘When I woke up [in the hospital] my hair was shaved – i had long hair before.
“They put me on meds to slow my metabolism because the burn needs all the calories to heal, so it led to weight gain and then scars.
“It’s very difficult at the moment. My identity is completely different than before it happened.’
A selfie shows Tamara standing healthy but with her arm burns neatly covered by clothing
The mother claims a local firefighter determined the source of the leak on the ground floor of her home due to the way the house blew up.
But Tamara says they couldn’t find the exact cause due to the destruction of the blast. The investigations are still ongoing.
Her insurance now finances her stay in a rental house and the reconstruction of her destroyed house.
Tamara now hopes to warn others about the risks of gas leaks and encourage people to take extra precautions when it comes to home detectors.
Tamara said: “I’m out of propane, I have oil.
“I would take every precaution possible, even if it’s just a little money, and make sure your gas company does its inspections properly.
“They make alarms for propane, but it’s not mandatory to have them in your house like a fire alarm – and I really think it should be mandatory.”