A worker caught in the fatal explosion at a sawmill in Prince George, B.C., said he ran for his life when he saw a “giant wall of orange” coming toward him Monday night.
“I seen this giant wall of orange and it was like coming at me at like a 100 miles an hour,” Thad Primrose told CBC News at Prince George Regional Hospital Friday.
Two men died and 22 others were injured in the incident.
“It's like the end of the world — instant survival mode,” said Primrose, 26. “I bet you I got out in about 25 seconds and still, my arms are burnt all the way around. My face is burnt. I didn't encounter that much direct flame. Just stuff that was hitting me and flying by, and fireballs.”
As the walls of the Lakeland mill collapsed with flames everywhere, Primrose said, he only escaped by making fortunate choices.
“I felt my way over … to the stairs. But there was flames all over the bottom half of those stairs. So [I] grabbed the railing and jumped over the side of the stairs, about a 12-foot drop,” Primrose recalled.
“And [I] kept running around, pushing through some stuff. You could still see like fire everywhere. And I knew if I got around this corner where they'd installed some new equipment … I was out of there fast."
Primrose is one of eight workers who remain in hospital. Nevertheless, he said, he feels fortunate.
“That was probably the hardest part — the horrific scene outside the mill afterwards because there was some guys who were not as lucky as me,” he said.
Primrose said community support for him and all the victims has been unbelievable.
“I'm just taking a deep breath, I'm so happy to be alive,” he said.
Primrose said he expects to leave hospital within days.
With files from the CBC's Alan Waterman