Next chance of rain to move in this weekend

Despite severe burns after backyard bonfire mishap, Dale teen’s resolute on firefighter career path

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DALE, Okla. - "I didn't realize I was on fire."

Dylan Lang was tending to his backyard bonfire of his family's home last Thursday night after a long night of cleaning and packing ahead of their scheduled move the next day.

Burning boxes and other paper trash the family and friends had collected throughout the week, the family suspects a bag destined for the dump inadvertently made it to the burn pile.

"There were so many people cleaning," said Sommer Lang, Dylan's mother. "We didn't know what was in that bag."

"I was stoking the fire with a shovel when it exploded," said the 19-year-old sophomore at Northern Oklahoma College. "I didn't realize I was on fire, until I saw the fire on me, then I stopped, dropped and rolled, but it wouldn't go out."

Dylan says his father and grandfather jumped in and smothered out the flames, but the damage was already done. The question, though: how severe was it?

"I could see just a little bit of blood on his face and thought, 'I'll get him cleaned up, see what's going on,'" said Sommer Lang, who is also a nurse at St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital. "And then when they brought him in the house, it was beyond what I could fix."

"It had singed my eyelashes shut and I thought I was blind," Dylan said. "I was in a lot of pain."

"That sound of him screaming, I've never quite heard a sound like that and I see people in pain on a regular basis," added Sommer.

The family sped to St. Anthony's in Shawnee; Dylan was later transported to Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City where doctors treated him through the weekend for second-degree burns on 15 percent of his body.

Burned from his shoulders down to his hands, upper chest, face and neck, Dylan now sports cast-like bandages covering the length of both arms. The skin on his face and neck raw, red and blistering like a severe sunburn.

Having just finished up his freshman year, including his first season as catcher on the Mavericks baseball team, he's optimistic about the future. The injuries will heal and he should be back behind the plate come fall.

But the incident hasn't changed his plans for his career path. Not as a baseball player, but as a firefighter.

"That was my plan to begin with," he said. "I still think I should go after it."