Glenvil Man Recovering From Burns In Freak Fire

FAIRFIELD, Neb. (AP) -- A rural Glenvil man is out of the hospital after suffering second-degree burns in a freak accident that occurred while he and his father were setting fire to branches and trash.

Mark Haba, 21, was with relatives in Fairfield for Thanksgiving after spending four days in the burn unit at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln.

Haba said his recovery was aided by the use of TransCyte, a one-application temporary skin substitute that replaces changeable bandages. The product represents a recent medical advancement for treatment of burns.

Had he required skin grafts, he would have been hospitalized a minimum of a week.

``Everything was singed,'' Haba said. ``My hair had been 2 inches longer, and my eyebrows were gone. But the eyebrows have grown back, and my hair will take time. I'd best put this behind me but then never forget it.''

Haba and his father, Lonnie, were preparing to burn trees and trash in a ditch southeast of Fairfield when the accident happened Nov. 17.

Lonnie Haba said Mark doused the pile with a gasoline and oil mixture. He left a 5-foot ignition trail and then left.

``Thinking he was safe, Mark set fire to the ignition trail,'' Lonnie said.

The high humidity and fog made the gasoline fumes hang near the ground, causing flames to spread beyond the ignition trail. Mark Haba suffered burns to his face, chest, arms and hands.

``I was on fire, probably for 20 seconds,'' he said. ``My arm and hand burns resulted from me stripping burning clothes.''

Aaron Paus, who was working with the Habas, used his cell phone to call 911. He then drove to the highway to meet the ambulance.

Habas was transported to Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital in Hastings before being taken to Lincoln by ambulance.