Welding accident at Vancouver Island University leaves student with serious burns

Welding accident at Vancouver Island University leaves student with serious burns

WATCH: A Vancouver Island University student is recovering in hospital following a serious welding accident on campus. The 17-year-old is part of the welding program and on Tuesday, part of his clothing caught on fire. He ended up receiving second and third-degree burns to 25 per cent of his body. Kendall Hanson reports.

Students are coming and going from the building where a welding accident happened Tuesday.

The victim involved in the accident is 17-year-old Jack Hollas. He’s enrolled in the university’s 10-month Welder Foundation Program.

“He was working with the welding equipment as part of his class and a piece of clothing lit on fire,” said Carrie Chassels, Vancouver Island University’s associate vice-president of student affairs.

His father says he was told his son panicked, started to run and was quickly engulfed in flames. He was sprayed with water and the fire was out in 10 seconds but in that time Hollas suffered second and third-degree burns to 25 per of his body.

“We had medical emergency responders on site within minutes of our 911 call,” said Chassels.

BC Ambulance transported Hollas to Victoria where he’s now in the Intensive Care Unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital. His father says his son is sedated, on a ventilator and is likely going to need skin grafts.

A welder who went through the VIU program says it’s easy for welders to have their clothing catch on fire.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s uncommon,” said Cole Peebles. “Like pretty much every welder I know has a story of some part of them catching on fire.”

And what you wear is crucial to being a safe welder.

“You see some guys and they do have full leather jackets, apron or pants and that’s pretty important,” said Peebles. “When you’re in school, everyone’s kind of trying to look rather casual about it and I think a lot of that safety gets lost.”

“VIU is gathering information for our own purposes,” said Chassels. “Safety is really important and we want to make sure that our safety protocols are as robust as possible.”

A friend has set up a GoFundMe page to help the Hollas family as they travel to and from Victoria from Nanaimo to tend to Jack. It’s hoped he’ll make a full recovery but it could take months.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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