A mother miraculously escaped over her fallen chimney after a massive gas explosion razed her home.
Tamara McLean couldn’t smell the propane leak in her house because she had Covid. She was on the last day of her quarantine.
The Maine mother and special needs teacher, 45, said she could hear her hair hiss and felt her face and body crisp.
McLean accidentally caused the leak while loading clothes into a dryer.
Tamara, 45, is pictured during her recovery with a giant teddy bear at Portland Medical Center, ME
Mrs. McLean returned to her home in Embden, Maine, only to find it completely destroyed
Little did she know that a leak filled the house with propane. Moments after she hit the drying button, her house exploded.
Happier times: Tattooed mom Tamara is pictured in front of the horrific gas explosion at home
Tamara said: ‘I had Covid, so I couldn’t smell, couldn’t taste, and it was my last day in quarantine, so I went out with my friends.
“I pressed the dryer button and was on my way up from my basement and an explosion went off.
“It blew me back, but I grabbed hold of the wall and tried to figure out what had happened because you don’t get that feeling every day — it’s like a gust of hot air going through you.
“I heard my hair hiss and I was burned. I felt my face and arms burn, but I just didn’t know its strength.’
Ms McLean added: “I started seeing pieces of my house falling on fire, so I ran up the stairs and ran outside.
“I didn’t look around as my main focus was to get outside, but my house was clearly blown up. I was in survival mode, my state of mind was ‘I need help now’.
McLean felt the second-degree burns on her back and arms as soon as the blast happened
Tamara said the blast was so violent that pieces of the house fell trees nearby
“My door had already been blown open and I had to jump over my chimney that had blown over.”
McLean had her extreme burns treated for a month at an expert burn department
Tamara managed to get into her car and drive 6.2 miles to the nearest fire station, from where she was airlifted to the ICU.
Second-degree burns covered nearly a third of her body.
Shocking photos show how the explosion destroyed her home, leaving it a smoldering mess around a burnt-out shell – while Tamara lay in the burn ward with horrific wounds.
The special teacher is still undergoing treatments on her skin, almost a year since the explosion on October 15 last year.
Tamara, of Embden, Maine, said: ‘I got in my car – I left my keys in the car because I live in a small town – I pressed the 911 emergency button and drove 4.8 miles to the fire station and there I went to get help.
“When it first happened, I don’t know I was in so much pain because I was in shock.”
Tamara spent a month recovering in the burn department of Maine Medical Center, Portland.
Doctors cleaned and covered second-degree burns on her face, arms, feet and back. A week later, they sutured synthetic skin over the rough skin to close her wounds.
Doctors spent weeks cleaning and dressing the burns on Tamara’s face (pictured in the unit)
After a miraculous recovery, the mother was released from the hospital, only to find that her home and all her belongings had been completely destroyed by the explosion.
Tamara said, ‘When you’re in a gas explosion like that and it goes through your body, your insides are actually burning.
“You have about four to six hours to be intubated or you won’t make it because your guts are burned and swollen.
“The pain is intense. The only way I can explain it is like you have a big open wound and you have sandpaper and salt water and you scrub. There is honestly no comparison.
Tamara, pictured before the accident, said her identity has been changed by the sad event
“My daughter said they changed my bandages once and it took over four hours because they had to take a break because the pain was so bad.
‘My house is completely gone. It blew so far and so hard that it knocked down trees in the forest.
“There was nothing left at all, not even a toothbrush. It was all just gone.”
After she was released from the hospital, Tamara had to return for weekly checkups, which eventually dropped to once a month. She still has regular appointments to this day.
She will begin laser treatment on the worst affected area of her body later this year. Severe burns to her arms caused contracture, uncomfortable skin tightening and reduced mobility.
In addition to the health effects, Tamara has dealt with the emotional strain of the change in her physical appearance, losing all of her hair from the explosion and being scarred from her burns.
Not even a toothbrush was left after the immense gas explosion in October last year
Tamara said, ‘Every day I have to massage my arms because that’s where I get the most burns and I can’t be in the sun.
“I have a piece of silicone in it that goes all the way to my shoulder on one side and all the way to my elbow on the other that I have to wear except when showering or washing.
‘When I woke up [in the hospital] my hair was shaved – before that I had long hair.
“They gave me drugs to slow my metabolism because the burn needs all the calories to heal, so it caused weight gain and added scarring.
“At the moment it is very difficult. My identity is completely different from before it happened.’
A selfie shows Tamara in good health, but her arm burns neatly covered with clothing
The mother claims that a local firefighter determined that the cause of the leak was on the ground floor of her house, because of the way the house exploded.
But Tamara says they couldn’t find the exact cause because of the destruction of the explosion. Investigations are still ongoing.
In the meantime, her insurance company is financing her stay in a rented house, as well as rebuilding her ruined house.
Tamara now hopes to warn others about the risks of gas leaks and encourage people to take extra precautions when it comes to home detectors.
Tamara said, ‘I’ve run out of propane, I’ve got oil.
“I would take every precaution possible, even if it’s a little money, and make sure your gas company does its inspections properly.
“They do make alarms for propane, but it’s not mandatory to have them in your house like a fire alarm — and I really think it should be mandatory.”