Bruce Heilesen works with Inpatient Occupational Therapist Maddie Krueger (above) and Inpatient Physical Therapist Alison Mooney (right) to regain his mobility after 12 percent of his body was burned in an accidental fire caused by a propane tank. (

Road to Recovery

Heilesen burned in April accident; positive attitude has helped through tough rehab

    HARLAN -- It was a regular day. Bruce Heilesen was mowing his lawn when the unthinkable happened.
    The mower’s left rear tire intersected with a valve on a propane tank and turned it on. Heilesen thought he would park his lawn mower and shut the tank off.
    “Evidently, when I got back to the propane bottle I disrupted the airflow and a spark came off my lawn mower, which was still running, [and] ignited the propane,” Heilesen said.
    Heilesen remembers laying down and rolling on the ground. When that didn’t work, he remembers looking for a fire extinguisher with no relief. Next, he tried the garden hose, which he learned afterwards cannot put out a propane fire. At some point, someone pulled in the driveway and called the fire department.

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