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Man Critically Injured In Propane Tank Explosion At Michigan Bible Camp

July 09, 2018 - 11:39 am

JONES, Mich. (WWJ) - A 44-year-old man is hospitalized with critical injuries after an explosion at a southwestern Michigan camp. 

The Cass County Sheriff's Office said Sunday that David Stiles, who works as facilities manager at Bair Lake Bible Camp in Jones, an unincorporated community south of Kalamazoo, was doing maintenance at a cabin when a propane tank exploded, causing a fire. 

Stiles was airlifted to the University of Michigan Hospital's burn unit where an update shared on thr camp's Facebook page said he remains in critical condition.

Stiles' wife, Sarah Stiles, said in the update that her husband suffered burns to 90 percent of his body and is deeply sedated. 

"The next few days are important. After that, he faces a long recovery that will be brutal (that was the doctor's term)," Sarah Stiles wrote. "We are very thankful that there was little damage to his respiratory system. Keep lifting him up to the Great Physician -- our lives are always in His hands. Please pray for wisdom for me with medical decisions ahead, peace for all of us, and that the Lord will bless the minds and hands of the doctors and surgeons.''

Camp officials said no campers were present in the cabin or anywhere on the grounds at the time, adding that this was "an isolated incident due to an equipment malfunction that provides no future safety risk for any of our campers or staff." Drew Gardner, the camp's executive director, told WSBT-TV that camp will continue this week and there are additional accommodations for campers.

The sheriff's office said the cause of the explosion and fire, which was was put out by the Newberg Township Fire Department, remains under investigation.

Sheriff Richard Behnke reminds everyone to be careful when using propane tanks as propane is very easily ignited and can cause severe injuries. Anyone who hears or smells propane, which can smell like rotten eggs, is urged to leave the area and contact emergency services immediately.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.