Community rallies around Barriere man who's recovering from second and third degree burns

Burn victim back at home

On Oct. 12, around 4 p.m., Bill Fowler went outside to light a bonfire.

It wasn't anything out of the ordinary, his daughter Angelina Gibson tells Castanet. It's something he often did on his 10-acre property, located just outside of Barriere.

"We're not too sure of the exact details but something happened and resulted in him igniting on fire as well," Gibson says.

Fowler, 69, was at home alone at the time. His partner was at work.

Gibson says her dad immediately stopped, dropped and rolled; however, that didn't help the situation much, she says, so he began removing his clothing and called 911.

"[He] just went and immersed himself in a very cold bath," she adds. "He's very lucky considering he was by himself and he was fully engulfed in flames. He was wearing one of those quilted jackets and was able to pull that off pretty quickly."

Sadly, Fowler suffered second and third degree burns to the majority of his legs and left hand. He was taken to Royal Inland Hospital, where he would spend the next five weeks. 

"He was pretty heavily sedated. It took him a few days before he really realized what happened."

Due to COVID-19, no one except for Fowler's spouse was able to go see him. And even then, his partner couldn't come to his bedside until a week after the accident.

Luckily, Gibson's husband works at RIH and was able to go in and check on him, she says.

"Other than that, it was a difficult time just because of everything that's going on. He was left on his own in there."

Fowler, a well-known musician and volunteer in his community (and many others), is back at home recovering.

"He's doing pretty good. He's been home for 12 days," Gibson says. "We had a special chair brought in for him so that he could recline and lay back and have his legs up. He's still in quite a bit of pain. ... His burns are continuing to heal really well."

The family has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000 for his recovery, she adds. The money will cover things like in-home care, gas to travel to and from doctor's appointments and property maintenance costs, like snow removal.

To date, the GoFundMe has surpassed $8,000.

"There's been a great outpouring of donations and people reaching out to him, which has been fantastic," Gibson notes, adding some people have even offered to come do chores.

"He's a very loved man and he's very kind. I am surprised by the outpouring of donations but not surprised that so many people love my dad."

To donate to Fowler's recovery, click here.

More Kamloops News