Couple Recovers in Burn Unit After Home Explodes

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A Fort Smith couple is recovering in the burn unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s in Little Rock after suffering from severe burns after their home exploded and caught fire, according to family members.

Bill Neumeier, a close friend of the survivors, Tim and Ella Chapman, said he's praying they both make a full recovery, but understands how serious their injuries are.

"Oh it's really tough seeing both of them like that," Neumeier said. "As far as I know, Tim has burns to 17 percent of his body and Ella has burns to 40 percent."

According to a nurse, Ella is in critical condition and relying on a ventilator to breath. Burns are covering 37% of her body. The nurse also says Ella’s husband Tim is close to critical condition with 20% of his body burned.

Tim is having his first surgery, a skin graft, Wednesday (March 20, 2013), according to family members. They say Ella is expected to have her first surgery on Friday (March 22, 2013).

Both Tim and Ella have been recovering in Little Rock since their house exploded and caught fire in the 9100 block of Fresno Circle Thursday (March 14, 2013).

"I just couldn't believe it,"  said family friend Debby Topham."I couldn't figure out what was going on at first and then to find out that it was their house. And that there had been an explosion. It was just really kind of scary."

“They’re great people. I’m sad to see something like this happened to them. I really am,” said neighbor Lamonte Scaife.

"They're just really good people and they've always been so kind to everyone and everybody just loves them," Topham said.

A neighbor said two dogs and a cat were inside the home at the time of the explosion and did not make it out.

The home appears to be heavily damaged. Family members said very little could be recovered from the home, but that they did save what they could.

The cause of the explosion and fire is still under investigation, according to the Fort Smith Fire Department. As of now, they say the explosion appears to be an unfortunate accident. Both a mechanical engineer and an origin expert have been called in to assess the damage. They were on site Monday, and are expected to be back out later this week.