Man, thrown from camper during explosion, saves wife from intense fire

Mar 12, 2018, 3:40 PM | Updated: 11:30 pm

A Chubbuck man was honored by the American Red Cross Thursday for saving his wife from an intense f...

A Chubbuck man was honored by the American Red Cross Thursday for saving his wife from an intense fire after an explosion occurred in their camper.

CHUBBUCK, Idaho — A Chubbuck man was honored by the American Red Cross Thursday for saving his wife from an intense fire after an explosion occurred in their camper.

Larry and Joyce Orchard were on their way to hunt with a friend near Mt. Borah last October.

The week before their trip, Larry unhooked a heater from a gas valve inside the camper but forgot to turn the gas line off.

Joyce suffered a stroke eight years ago and can’t walk. She was along for the ride when the couple stopped to spend the night and woke up the next morning for breakfast.

“I tried to make the coffee and I couldn’t get the stove to light,” Larry recalls. “I’m smelling propane that’s leaking from the bottom (open gas line) but I’m thinking it’s coming from the burner. After a while smelling propane, I think it kind of dulls your senses.”

Larry tried repeatedly to light the stove without success before reaching for a match. He lit the match and the burner finally ignited.

“I reached up to grab the oatmeal and when I brought it down, the fire just jumped off the stovetop and the whole room went, ‘Kawoosh! Boom!’” Larry tells EastIdahoNews.com. “It blew me like a champagne cork right out the closed door. I landed about 15 feet in the sagebrush and the fire’s just roaring out of the doorway. And she’s in there.”

Joyce was sitting on a couch near the stove with their dog Spanky. The pooch could have run out the door but stayed near Joyce’s side the entire time.

With burns on his hands and back, Larry bolted back into the burning trailer.

“I bounced right back in, picked her up and I threw her like a log out of the pickup,” Larry says. “I aimed her at the door and chucked her because I couldn’t walk her past that torch and I couldn’t take the time to walk her out and try to get down through that narrow doorway of the camper.”

Larry ran to the front of the trailer and shut the gas off. He waited for the flames to die down inside before using a fire exingusher to put out hot spots.

Joyce had severe burns on her face, eyes, hands and inside her throat. She was in shock and couldn’t move.

With no cell phone signal and the nearest hospital over an hour away in Arco, Larry jumped in the truck and took off.

“My hands were burned off. Melted. So I drove with the back of my thumb and my wrist and then I alternated with my elbows clear to Arco,” Larry says.

The Orchards arrived at the Lost Rivers Medical Clinic and Joyce was flown to Portneuf Medical Center before being transferred to the University of Utah Burn Center with second-degree burns.

“She looked like a Hiroshima victim. It was terrible,” Larry says. “They told me she was going to die.”

After ten agonizing days, Joyce began improving and she was released from the hospital after two weeks.

Since that day, Larry has thought a lot about the fire and says he’s fortunate he and his wife weren’t wearing nylon.

“Leave the nylon off of you when you’re camping,” Larry says. “It instantly melts in one second and now you’ve got a gooey, melting plastic mess all over you that’s burning hot and how you gonna get that off?”

Larry was honored as an “East Idaho Real Hero” by the American Red Cross during a luncheon last week. He says he wasn’t doing anything heroic and just wanted to save his wife from burning to death.

The couple admits they’re lucky to be alive and know this story could have had a different ending.

“I was able to just react instantly,” Larry says. “If I’d have waited or paused or went into shock, like she did, then we would not be here today.”

Nate Eaton

Click here for updates on this story

™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Spanish Fork police at the scene where the teen was hurt....

Andrew Adams

Police: Spanish Fork teen seriously injured after falling out of an SUV

Spanish Fork police said a 16-year-old boy was seriously injured after falling out of a moving SUV on Friday.

5 hours ago

Aftermath of an avalanche off of the Wasatch Mountains. (Courtesy: Rob Holmes)...

Brianna Chavez

Backcountry skier urges caution after triggering avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon

A backcountry skier urges other skiers to be cautious after triggering avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon

6 hours ago

silver cuffs on a black background...

Alexander Campbell

Cedar City math tutor accused of recording a student in the restroom

A math tutor in Cedar City was arrested after admitting to recording a student in his restroom on Thursday.

6 hours ago

Pair of handcuffs on a black bacthroom...

Alexander Campbell

Salt Lake City man charged with credit union robbery

A grand jury has voted to charge a local man with the robbery of a Cyprus Credit union.

7 hours ago

Joey Skelton, a school bus driver for a Utah school is receiving a thank you poster and an award fo...

Emma Benson

School bus driver hailed as hero for saving student lives after car ignored bus stop arm

A Jordan School District bus driver is being praised after he prevented a possible tragedy from happening to students. 

7 hours ago

A boy leads a band through a community near Manila, Philippines....

Dan Rascon

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bring water to Filipino community

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped to build new water tanks for a small Filipino community that was in desperate need.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Man, thrown from camper during explosion, saves wife from intense fire