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Man burned in explosion
Paint fumes likely trigger
explode garage closer
The garage door was almost blown out by the explosion. - photo by Jim Dean (previous profile)
A 38-year-old man remains hospitalized for severe burns suffered in an explosion Sunday at his northeast Forsyth County home.

Jim Davis was in stable condition Tuesday in the burn unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, said his wife, Barbara Davis. He is scheduled to undergo skin grafting today.

The incident occurred about 5:30 p.m. Sunday. She said her husband was using an aerosol primer in the utility room of their Creekstone Place home when the explosion occurred.

“He was behind the freezer and that’s what saved him,” she said.

Barbara Davis and their 15-year-old daughter were home at the time, but were not injured. Their 16- and 10-year-old daughters were not there.

“I was thinking a bomb had hit,” she said. “The house shook and my daughter thought it was an earthquake, but we’re all safe. He’s in good spirits.”

Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said Davis was conscious but severely burned when emergency personnel arrived.

“At some point the fumes from the aerosol can found an ignition source,” he said. “There was a flash explosion, significantly damaging the structure.”

Shivers said officials suspect the source was a gas water heater.

“A number of doors and windows were blown out, but there was no fire,” said Shivers, adding that it was a “very rapid single explosion.”

The eruption also damaged the garage door of the house and displaced several walls.

Shivers said Davis was first taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville for what appeared to be third-degree burns to his arms and upper body.

Indications were he also had second-degree burns to his neck, lower abdomen and upper legs and first-degree burns on the rest of his body.

He was transferred to Grady later Sunday night.

Davis’ neighbor, Tim Hitchcock, said he was home when the explosion occurred.

“It sounded a lot like thunder,” he said, adding that it shook his house across the street.

Hitchcock said Davis is one of his best friends and will be in the hospital “for a while.”

“We went and took care of his house and boarded it up and everything,” he said.

Barbara Davis said she has received an outpouring of support from friends and members of their church, Grace Chapel Church of Christ.

She also was grateful for the fire and emergency medical personnel who responded to the explosion.

“I can’t express the gratitude I have for the people that have come out,” she said.

Shivers urged residents to make sure homes are properly ventilated and ignition sources are turned off before using chemical substances, such as paint or cleaners, in confined areas.

“The house has been condemned by the fire department and once we left the scene (Sunday night) it was secured and the family was instructed not to re-enter until it has been looked at by the insurance company and evaluated by a structural engineer,” Shivers said.

Barbara Davis said the family’s insurance company was taking care of them and that they likely will rebuild part of the house.

E-mail Julie Arrington at juliearrington@forsythnews.com.