An innocent evening spent with friends around a bonfire in Omakau had dire consequences for Mikayla Haymes-Napier.
Mikayla, of Alexandra, was chatting to friends with her back to the bonfire when an aerosol can – believed to have been air freshener – somehow ended up in the fire and exploded.
The explosion sent a chemical through her jeans and on to her skin, which the flames latched on to.
“My whole leg was on fire.”
She said she ran in panic, never thinking to “stop, drop and roll”.
However, her brother, Ben, who was nearby, managed to grab her and throw her on the ground.
Others padded the flames from her leg, called 111 and helped her to a shower where she waited for first responders to arrive.
Members of the Omakau Volunteer Fire Brigade were first on the scene followed by St John paramedics who took Mikayla to Dunstan Hospital where she stayed the night.
She was later transported to Dunedin Hospital where she had a skin graft.
She is now having regular physio treatment to help get movement back into the affected area.
As she recounts the horrifying ordeal, which happened on August 3, Mikayla is grateful for many things – the fact she was not facing the fire and that her brother acted so quickly.
Their mum, Kerry Reid, describes him as a “bit of a hero”.
“He always seems to be there for his little sister.”
Mikayla hoped it was a lesson to other people, not to put explosives into fire.
She understood sometimes there was a temptation, but urged people to think twice.
Mikayla has spoken out in the hope her story will prevent the same thing from happening to others.
She said there were many people she wanted to thank for helping her that night – too many to name.
“I’ll be here forever trying to name everybody,” she said.