Horror BBQ blaze leaves woman with severe burns

An Australian woman suffered burns to 25 percent of her body after a barbecue fire.
An Australian woman suffered burns to 25 percent of her body after a barbecue fire. Photo credit: Getty

An Australian woman was left with horrific burns after being engulfed by a fireball from a barbecue.

Renee Mandelson, 35, attended a first birthday party in northern Sydney in 2016. As she stood some metres from a small coal barbecue, another guest poured gel fire accelerant onto it which created a fireball.

The flames hit Ms Mandelson in the back, engulfing her left arm. She instinctively dropped to the ground and rolled to try to extinguish the fire, but ended up lighting more of the grass on fire.

"I was screaming 'help, help' but it was a massive fire," she told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

"[I felt] fear that I would be burned alive because the flames would not cease."

Luckily two other guests were firefighters who were able to put out the flames with a bottle of soft drink and a blanket. They then began first aid on Ms Mandelson while others ran for help.

It took an ambulance 20 minutes to arrive on the scene, by which time she was screaming from the "horrific" pain.

Ms Mandelson was taken to hospital and spent days in intensive care, before being admitted to the severe burns unit. She had been burned on 25 percent of her body, including her leg, arm, back, chest, neck and face.

She needed three skin grafts and endured months of hospital treatments. She also spent 23 hours a day in compression garments for almost a year.

Ms Mandelson told the Sydney Morning Herald that she hopes talking about her experience will encourage other people to practice fire safety around barbecues, and especially to be wary about fire starter materials.

"There is never any need to use accelerant on the open flames of a barbecue."


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