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Harnett County Man Survives Fire, But Unhappy About EMS Treatment

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HARNETT COUNTY — A gasoline explosion injured a Harnett County man last week, but he says the most dangerous part could have been his attempt to get to the hospital.

"It's something you read about in horror books," Willie Sprouse said.

But Sprouse experienced a real-life drama. It started last Thursday after he parked his riding lawn mower in his shed.

"I pulled my mower in the building, cut it off, got off of it and there was a wall of fire," Sprouse said.

The fumes from gasoline in the shed and the mower's hot engine caused an explosion. Sprouse was trapped inside.

"So I grabbed my wife's oriental rug, covered my face, and out I come," Sprouse said.

"He had burns on his face, arms, back, belly abdomen, both legs and both feet," said friend Dick Wilber.

But Sprouse's story does not end there. After rescue crews and vehicles arrived at his home and the workers put him in an ambulance, Sprouse says he overheard a conversation between two Anderson Creek workers.

"Somebody said "Who's going.' One woman said, 'Well I can't go, I got something to do.' The other one said 'I ain't going either, I got something to do,'" Sprouse said.

Sprouse said the debate went on for 20 minutes while he suffered in the ambulance from second- and third-degree burns.

Finally he was taken to Womack Army Medical Center, and then to the UNC Burn Center. Despite a few bandages and being sore, he is doing fine. But it will take him a little longer to heal on the inside.

"I don't want anybody else to ever go through this," Sprouse said.

Harnett County commissioner Tim McNeill would not talk to WRAL on camera, but says Sprouse's complaints are being investigated by the county manager and Emergency Medical Services Director.