A mother of six remembers the moment she went up in flames after throwing a small splash of gasoline on an outdoor fire pit and the harrowing consequences of her near-fatal mistake.
Friday night started like any other for Anita Ferguson, 38, who got ready to enjoy a quiet night at home with her kids and a lasagne while watching an NRL game on the couch.
The single mother lit the fire pit in her South West Sydney Claymore backyard last weekend to keep warm when it suddenly burst into flames after pouring the tiniest drop of petrol on it to start the flames.
Ms Ferguson suffered severe second-degree burns over 30 percent of her body, including two-thirds of her face, head, right arm, neck and shoulder.
She and her family shared harrowing details of the traumatic ordeal with Daily Mail Australia in a desperate appeal to others not to make the same mistake.
A week later, Ms. Ferguson is still bandaged and in excruciating pain from her horrific burns, which was a distressing sight for her children.
Anita Ferguson (before the accident) lit a fire pit in her backyard when disaster struck
Anita Ferguson’s family has shared poignant photos of her injuries so others don’t make the same mistake lighting a fire pit
“I usually use small pieces of wood but couldn’t find any so I put big pieces in the pit,” Ms Ferguson told Daily Mail Australia.
“As I poured a small splash of gasoline into it, the flames shot up and landed on my arms and face.
“It was a stupid thing to do and I know I shouldn’t have.”
Her children, ages 19 to 3, were inside at the time.
One of her teenage sons Bryson, 15, dragged her from the backyard into the shower as they waited for emergency services to arrive.
A week later, Ms. Ferguson is still in excruciating pain and has a long road to recovery ahead of her.
She was released from hospital earlier this week but has to be checked every other day for her extensive burns.
The part-time WAO support worker is incapacitated for work for a maximum of six months.
“I couldn’t tie my shoelaces this morning, I had to get my nine-year-old daughter to help me,” said Ms Ferguson.
The single mother (pictured with her four biological children after the accident) has a difficult road to recovery ahead of her
Anita (left) has to ask her nine-year-old daughter Carly (right) for help tying her shoelaces
Ms Ferguson has four children aged 19 to 9 and also cares for two foster children aged 3 and 4, both of whom have intellectual disabilities.
“It was the first time in a long time that the kids were all home at the same time,” her brother Marc Ferguson told the Daily Mail Australia.
“She had picked up the kids from school and was getting ready to watch the rugby league, which is very popular in the household.”
“She added a splash of gasoline as she lit the fire and the flames just engulfed her.”
The accident not only took a heavy physical and mental toll on Ms. Ferguson, but also on the rest of the family.
“The children are struggling to see the extent of their mother’s injuries,” Mr Ferguson said.
“I wouldn’t wish on anyone the amount of pain Anita is going through right now.
The latest incident comes after five people were rushed to hospital after another fire pit exploded while being refilled with ethanol at a rally in Newport on Sydney’s Northern Beaches over the Easter long weekend.
A woman ended up in an induced coma with severe burns to her face, neck and chest.
Several others escaped by jumping into the backyard pool, which paramedics say reduced the severity of their injuries.
Local community rally behind beloved disability worker (pictured)
Anita Ferguson was taken to Concord Hospital with severe burns over 30 percent of her body
“Now is not the time to be complacent, especially as we head into winter,” Mr Ferguson said.
“Everyone should be careful about lighting fires.”
“Sitting around the backyard fire pit on a cold night is a great way for a family to spend time together, but if you’re going to use a fire pit, use it safely.”
“And keep children safely away from them.”
Using gasoline to light the fire is a no-go.
“Growing up in regional NSW, we used to get a fire like that,” Mr Ferguson said.
“Anita is not going to use petrol to light fires anymore, she and I have had a very long talk about that.”
Anita Ferguson (pictured) suffered severe burns after using gasoline to light a fire pit
Anita Ferguson (pictured in hospital) is still in excruciating pain a week later
Friends and the local community have gathered around Ms. Ferguson and her young family with an online fundraiser set up to help them through the challenging months ahead.
The part-time income she has lost while she recovers would normally keep the household going.
“Anita is the first to help others, she is there for everyone, and it’s about time Anita needed everyone’s help,” said the page set up by Mr. Ferguson and Anita’s sister Jenna.
“Anything you can offer in support would be greatly appreciated. Anita will not be able to return to work for months as she recovers and gets her life back to normal as she recovers from her serious injuries.”
“With six kids to feed and run after, Anita will have a hard time in the months to come.”
More than $6,500 was raised in just a few days.
“There are no words to describe the overwhelming support Anita has received,” said her brother.
“Whether it’s bringing meals, offering to look after the kids, or sitting with Anita during the day when she’s alone in the house, it all means a lot.”
Seeing the state of their mother’s horrific injuries was distressing to Anita’s children