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Whitko H.S. student suffers burns in house explosion and fire

SOUTH WHITLEY, Ind. (WPTA21) – A teen-aged girl faces several weeks, if not months, of treatment for burns suffered when her house exploded, then caught fire.

“Her whole room was consumed with flames and she literally had to run through the flames to get upstairs, to get out of the house,” said her father, Jerry West, who was out of town on business Friday, when he got the call that no parent wants to get.

His wife Lana and daughter Summer were in the family home outside South Whitley, when he says some type of propane gas explosion went down.

The explosion leveled part of the house, and fire destroyed most of the rest.

16-year old Summer West was in the basement, where the explosion was centered.

Her brother, River West, is still shaken from the memory of arriving at the scene of the incident about 30 minutes after it all happened, seeing all the fire trucks and smoke pouring from the home.

His mom was okay, and a police officer originally told him his sister only had burns on her hand.

“Eventually, when we got to the hospital, we found out it’s third degree burns on her arm, legs and foot, and yeah, it was definitely devastating,” River West said.

The girl is being treated for third degree burns to parts of her arms, legs, and hands.

She covered her face with her hands as she ran through the flames, which spared her face from the most severe injuries.

She’s being treated at St. Joe Hospital’s burn unit in downtown Fort Wayne.

She has already gone through some skin grafts.

The outpouring of support from friends and family is lifting her spirits.

The job of re-building the destroyed family home must be confronted at some point, but for now, there are more important issues to take care of.

Click on the link if you’d like to donate to a GoFundMe account established for Summer West.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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