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Whitstable angler Stuart Roberts fishing near Canterbury lucky to have his sight after gas canister blast

By Lowri Stafford

A fisherman who suffered horrific burns when two gas canisters exploded in his face is warning others about the dangers.

Angler of 40 years Stuart Roberts was fishing at a lake at Chilham Mill when the freak accident happened.

The 50-year-old had been making a cup of tea on a portable stove when he landed a carp.

Angler Stuart Roberts suffered horrific burns when a gas canister exploded in his face

As he turned to the lake to reel the fish in, he was unaware flames were quickly spreading to his bivvy – a small tent used by carp fishermen – which contained two spare gas canisters.

Suddenly, one of the canisters exploded, and as Mr Roberts bent down to try to douse the blaze, the other blew up in his face. The heat was so intense that it singed his skin and melted his glasses to his face.

The father-of-two said: “I lit the stove to boil water to make my first cup of tea of the day. I was just tiring my fish when the bivvy caught fire and caused the first explosion.

“I was trying to salvage my stuff and throw water over it when the other canister went bang. It happened so quickly.”

Stuart is lucky to have his sight, while his arms were damaged in the gas blast

Emergency crews were called and rushed to the lake in two ambulances, two cars, and the air ambulance.

Paramedics treated Mr Roberts at the scene before airlifting him to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford. He was later transferred to the specialist burns unit at East Grinstead.

He said: “I have burns all over my face, head, hands and arms. Doctors pulled the damaged skin off and dressed the wounds, but I’ll be left with scars. It’s obviously very painful.

“But as well as the injuries, I lost more than £3,500 worth of fishing tackle, my phone and my wallet with my kids’ photos in it.”

His partner Lynn Gaymer, also 50, says her heart “dropped down to her boots” when she heard Stuart had been hurt.

She says: “It was awful when I got that phone call from the air ambulance crews to say he’d been badly burnt.

Stuart's arms were badly burned

“I was in such a state on the way to hospital because I didn’t know what I was going to see.

“It looked pretty nasty. The burns cover most of his head including his ears, his face, his lips.

"Doctors pulled the damaged skin off and dressed the wounds, but I’ll be left with scars" - Stuart Roberts

“If he hadn’t had his glasses on at the time, he would’ve been blinded. The glass had melted to his face, but they managed to save his sight, which is one positive.”

Mr Roberts hopes his ordeal will serve as a lesson to other anglers to keep an eye on their stoves – and avoid storing gas canisters in bivvies.

He adds: “It was a force of nature, but I did what we all do wrong – I turned my back on it.”

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