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A “hero” nurse is lucky to be alive after being set on fire when a portable heater exploded in a beer garden.
Ashleigh Charlesworth, 27, suffered severe burns to her face, chest and hands after it blew up at the Kings Head pub in Great Cornard, Suffolk.
She was taken to hospital and left fighting for her life on a ventilator for two days.
Two other people, including her cousin, were also injured in the blast on April 24.
It is believed to have happened after a customer brought the heater to the boozer.
Ashleigh worked as a paediatric nurse in Essex before moving to Virgin Care, and had recently helped deliver coronavirus vaccinations.
She needed a skin graft on her hands and has to wear a special face mask to help heal her facial burns and prevent potential infection.
Her dad Paul Charlesworth, 55, of Colchester, Essex, said: "Someone brought a heater to the pub but it exploded and Ashleigh and her cousin got sprayed in the face.
"They were badly burned and taken to hospital. Ashleigh was put on a ventilator for two days and needed operations on her hands."
He added: "She is in extreme pain and needs to have her skin chemically cleaned.
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"What's happened has only sunk in for Ashleigh over the last couple of days.
"It's so unfortunate as she is such a hero who does so much for the NHS."
Her sister Stacey said it is too soon to know whether Ashleigh might need surgery on her face.
She said: "She has quite deep burns along the left side of her face and around her left ear. It's quite shocking – it's not just a little scald.
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"She has had skin grafts on both her hands, which they have taken off her legs – so that's another wound she has to deal with.”
She has launched a GoFundMe page to support her sister while she is off work recovering, which has so far raised over £2,000.
The pub was closed in the days following the incident.
The landlords said they were "limited" as to what they could say, in light of an ongoing police investigation.
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A pub spokesman wrote on Facebook: "We can however confirm that the heating appliance was not one supplied by the pub, but was brought onto the premises without our knowledge.
"At the moment, we have three of our customers with serious injuries, potentially life-changing.
"Our focus is on supporting the enquiry that is taking place while keeping them, and their families, at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Suffolk Police is appealing for witnesses.
A force spokesman said: “It is believed the fire was caused by a small portable fuel heater.
"The three people, two females and one male, remain in hospital after sustaining serious injuries, which are not believed to be life-threatening but are potentially life-changing."
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