A bride was forced to call off her wedding after she was engulfed in flames that ‘melted’ her face just before her big day – ll while she was cooking French fries.
Brenley Davis had just sat down for dinner with her soon-to-be husband Justin Davis on August 31, 2020.
The couple, from Jacksonville, North Carolina, US, were due to get married in just six days’ time when the 22-year-old spotted smoke filling the room.
Terrified, she leapt from her seat only to discover that she had left the stove on for an hour, causing a pan of oil to overheat and smoke.
Brenley quickly turned off the heat as 25-year-old marine Justin threw open the doors and window.
But the air from outside blew through the kitchen and ‘fuelled’ the oil fire, causing it to “burst into 30-inch flames”.
Adrenaline kicked in and Brenley lunged for the burning pan and grabbed it with her bare hands before racing outside to throw it away.
But the flames blew against her body and she suffered second and third degree burns to her face, arms, ribs, chest, legs and feet.
Left in agony for months, as she endured treatment and surgery, the idea of getting married remained a dream until November 2020.
With her scars proudly on show, she was able to finally get married then.
The former Marine Corps reserve has since trained as a nurse where she hopes to help other burn survivors.
Brenley said: “I felt like my whole face had melted off. I was so scared.
“I was making French fries. I thought I’d turned the oil off but it had been on the stove for an hour on medium to high heat.
“The next thing I knew it started smoking. I removed the lid, turned it off and pushed the pot off the burner.
“We opened the windows and back door and I guess the air that came in from opening the windows fuelled it.
“It automatically caught on fire and the flames were so high that it was burning the cabinets.
“My husband called the fire department and he was standing outside on the back patio. I was just standing there watching it burn and next thing I knew, my adrenaline kicked in.
“I grabbed the pot and ran with it. I still don’t know what possessed me to grab a pot with 30-inch flames coming from it.
“The flames were so high that it was burning my face, arms, ribs and chest. Once I got outside and threw the pot, the fire [blew] back on my leg.
“The flames were still going and I ran through it. It then got on the bottom of my feet.”
Brenley said that the shock numbed most of the pain at first but as she was rushed to hospital her injuries turned into extreme swelling and blisters.
She added: “When my mama saw how much pain I was in, she wanted to kiss me but she couldn’t. She took her nose and gently rubbed it on mine but my skin peeled off.”
Brenley couldn’t feed herself, use the bathroom or walk, and Justin took care of her “upholding his vows before he’d even said them”, she said.
She had to undergo a number of painful procedures including draining each individual blister before having skin graft for the very worst burns.
Her body ‘scabbed over’ following surgery, but these were all ripped off when her bandages were removed.
What followed was three months of agonising physiotherapy to get her arms moving and skin stretching once more.
Brenley said: “My skin was very red and still had blisters but the worst part overall was my mental health.
“This has changed me. It’s made me stronger. I had PTSD and I’ve had dreams about being set on fire and the house burning again.
“I had to keep reminding myself that I’m here for a reason, I’ve survived and that I can use this positively.”
Despite this, just three months after the horrific ordeal, Brenley got married during a ‘beautiful’ ceremony.
She said: “In my wedding pictures you can still see the bumps from the skin grafts.
“I was a little bit self conscious and part of me was going to ask the photographer to blur out my red skin grafts but then my mama told me ‘you’re beautiful no matter what’. I accepted it and told myself not to be self-conscious.
“I have slight scarring now and if I look down at my arms, I can see the skin grafts. Sometimes people ask me if I lost a lot of weight because my arms look like they have stretch marks.”