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Neighbour helps man after garage explosion

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Heather Brooks saw flashes of an American disaster film starring John Travolta this morning.

“Ladder 49. It just reminded me of movies,” said the 68 year old who was on her front lawn with her dog when there was an explosion in the garage across the street. “I looked up at the garage. Big bang. Garage door went flying.”

The blast took place before 8 a.m. on William Street in Merlin. Brooks said she called 9-1-1 and is seen in a security video crossing the street to survey the damage.

She said she acted without hesitation, “That's when I saw the person inside the garage. Went in and got him out. Sorry. There was a body movement and I went in. That was it. No other thoughts.”

Brooks said flames were about two feet high when she entered the garage. She grabbed a man by the belt buckle and dragged him to safety as the flames began to engulf the garage.

“I was scared to death, but I got him,” said Brooks, who went back to make sure no one else was in the garage.

The municipality of Chatham-Kent said four stations responded to the explosion.

“It is a very quiet town,” noted Merlin resident Merrissa Schingler. “Nothing really ever happens here. So this is pretty near unheard of for here.”

She heard the blast from her house almost a kilometre away.

“I heard something and then my windows rattled and then I was out front reading the book and had my coffee and I started to see the smoke,” said Schingler.

The man was rushed to Chatham-Kent Health Alliance with serious injuries and then air lifted to a burn unit out of town. The cause of the blast is unknown at this time.

Chatham-Kent Fire Chief Chris Case is thanking the public for helping, especially Brooks' quick response.

“I'm praying he's good,” Brooks said.

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