Out of the fire

Ethan Brogan photo

Xander Black rests at home after a garage fire left 15 percent of his body covered with second and third degree burns. The accident occurred Oct. 22 and resulted in a 10-day stay at the Swedish Medical Center in Denver.

By Ethan Brogan ethan@glenrockind.com

Coming into Xander Black’s home, you would never expect he had been an accident there just one month before. He sits in a chair in the living room, his mind and hands fixed on the Rubik’s Cube he is fidgeting with.
Xander is sitting at home after a fire left 15 percent of his body covered in second and third degree burns.
Xander was headed to the basement like he had done a thousand times before. He entered the garage and saw a fire burning in a paint-sprayer box. He grabbed a water bottle in attempt to extinguish the flames.
Right as he bent down to put out the fire, a gas canister next to the blaze exploded, burning Xander’s face and body.
Erin ran into the garage and saw her son.
“By the time I had got out there, he had already taken his shirt off, which was on fire,” Erin said.
Xander went outside and Erin extinguished the flames using their dog’s water bowl. Erin rushed Xander and his siblings Richy and Kallista Black into her car and sped from their Rolling Hills home toward Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) in Casper.
When they got to 6th Street, Xander told his mom “Mom, I think I need an ambulance.”
Erin pulled over and called an ambulance. EMS quickly arrived and took Xander to WMC where doctors had already contacted a helicopter to fly him to Denver.
Xander arrived at Swedish Medical Center in Denver and was rushed into surgery.
“They put him on a ventilator, he wasn’t breathing on his own, ” Erin said, commenting that Xander remained sedated and unconscious for three days. “He lost three days of his life...they (doctors) had him on amnesia sedation where he would wake up and not remember any of it happening.”
Fifteen percent of Xander’s body was covered with mostly second degree burns with third degree burns on his arms and knuckles. He drifted in and out of consciousness during his 10-day stay in the hospital.
Xander’s second surgery was to apply temporary skin graphs to his burned body. The third and final surgery involved removing a segment of skin from his left leg to be used for his permanent skin graph.
“All of it was scary, I didn’t like it, at all,” Xander said. “That’s all I can say, because that’s all I thought.”
Xander has been resting at home since Nov. 1, but still returns to Denver for examinations every Monday.
After they retuned home, Xander and Erin quickly learned of the tremendous support from their neighbors.

While Xander was being treated in Denver, friends and members of the community in Rolling Hills and Glenrock were banding together to help him out.
“Drives and neighbors.”
Family friends Tory Johnson and Wendy Phillips started a Gofundme page and got the ball rolling on several movements to bring relief to the Black family.
In one week, more than 31 together donated $2,250 to help the Blacks.
“That’s mainly what I want to say, is how grateful we are,” Erin said, holding back tears. “I didn’t ask for any of this, we’ve had hundreds of people come forward and donate money, donation boxes at the schools, they did Gofundme page, they have just been really amazing.”
While Xander was in the hospital he had multiple visitors.
“His football coach came and seen us in the hospital,” Erin said, her eyes welling up. “Everybody’s just been really awesome they have all came and seen him and, I just can’t believe, people I don’t even know have helped out. This community is really awesome.”
Erin spouted off dozens of people who helped the Blacks get through their ordeal.
“I can’t really go into naming everyone that brought stuff by because we would be here all day,” Erin said. “ We are truly grateful for what everyone has gave him and done for him.”
Xander still has some healing to do, but Erin is reminded of her son’s resolve and courage every day.
“He has been a trooper,”Erin said, proudly beaming toward her son. “He’s doing really amazing though, he is healing up really good.”
Doctors are still determining if Xander will need any additional surgeries. As of now, it looks as though his permanent skin graphs took and he won’t need to return to another operating room anytime soon.
Erin emanates with the pride of how well Xander has taken everything and the strength he  has showed.
“Surprising thing was it didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would,” Xander said, looking at his mom. “I thought burns would hurt way worse.”


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

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