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Kinston Fire Survivor Enjoys Special Day

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KINSTON, N.C. — Thursday marked a very special Christmas for a survivor of the Kinston plant explosion.

In January, Jim Edwards was burned over more than 60 percent of his body. Doctors did not know if he would survive.

Thursday, after an amazing recovery, he was celebrating the holiday at home with his family.

Getting everyone together for Christmas has been an Edwards family tradition. This year, there is extra meaning for Jim and his father.

"Back in January, I didn't know if I was ever going to see another day or not," Jim said.

Jim was working inside the West Pharmaceutical plant when it exploded in Kinston.

"Thank the Lord that he pulled through and is doing well," said Red Edwards, Jim's father.

The first image people saw of Jim Edwards was him trapped on a beam in the burning facility, waving for help.

"That was a bad place," he said.

WRAL followed him through his eight-month recovery at the burn center in Chapel Hill. His father stayed by his side as he fought to take a few small steps.

Now he is back home.

"I've come a long way," Jim said. "I'm getting out in the neighborhood, going to the mall and to the store."

The fire left Edwards blind, but his spirits are high. Last week, he met with the firefighters who pulled him to safety.

"I talked to thim about how nice it was for them to rescue me that day," he said.

Jim said a lot of good has come from his journey.

"My friends and me are closer than we ever have been," he said, "and family-wise, it's the same way."

Said Red: "I'm extremely grateful for the miracles that's been done."

Red believes the family's faith and hundreds of prayers helped bring his son home for another Christmas.

Eventually, Jim hopes to get at least part of his vision back. His family has been searching the Internet looking for medical advances that might help him see again.