Isanti County explosion survivor describes her escape and her recovery
Valerie Zdenek, 66, is speaking out after her home exploded, leaving her with burns across 30% of her body.
“This is a very hard thing to go through, “ she said. “I’m 66 years old, who wants to start over from scratch?”
It happened on Sept. 18, off Highway 95 in Wyanett Township. The cause is still under investigation.
Zdenek says she heard a noise coming from the oven before the house exploded. She has third-degree burns on her hands, arms and legs, and second-degree burns on her chest and face. Amazingly she was able to escape the house and call 911.
“I sat down on the edge of the stoop and put my hair out, because my hair was on fire,” she said. “They tell you to ‘stop, drop and roll,’ I just wanted to get down and slap it out… That’s probably what I was thinking.”
“It makes everything more difficult when there’s an explosion involved in a fire,” said Dr. Jon Gayken with the Hennepin Healthcare Burn Center. Hennepin Healthcare is hosting the Midwest Burn Conference this week to share information about complex cases like Zdenek’s.
Dr. Gayken says cases like this can often involve injuries beyond the skin.
“Any time there is an explosion, you can have injury to your lungs and internal organs which goes with normal trauma,” he said.
Zdenek has spent the past three weeks recovering at the Hennepin Healthcare Burn Center. She is learning how to use her hands and feet again, and bracing herself for starting over. Her home is a total loss, but her family hasn’t left her side.
“If you don’t have family to back you up, you’re not going anywhere,” she said.
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