Man suffers horrific burns: 'It's a horrible place to be'
RELEASED from a five-week stint in a hospital burns unit, Lester 'Moe' Edwards is facing an uphill battle trying to get his life back on track.
On the night of November 13 last year, Mr Edwards sustained burns to most of his body when his ute and Chinchilla home caught alight.
Battling depression and feeling overwhelmed by debt, Mr Edwards said he had been trying to end his own life that night.
"I couldn't afford the house payments... it just got on top of me," he said.
"I wanted to end my life."
But instead he was saved by the brave efforts of Chinchilla police officers Senior Constable Michael Collett and Constable Carl Newman, who were at the scene when Mr Edwards' vehicle exploded in flames.
The pair had just enough time to pull Mr Edwards from his ute and extinguish the fire from his body before calling Queensland Ambulance Services.
But nothing could be done to prevent the fire spreading to Mr Edwards' Hypatia Street home next to his vehicle.
A beloved dog tied up at the house was also unable to escape the blaze.
When he awoke from an induced coma, Mr Edwards was devastated to learn the fire had taken his pet's life.
"(It was an) accident that the fire spread," he said.
"I miss her. I didn't wish anything to happen to her.
"She was nearly 10 years old - a fox terrier, heart of a lion."
Mr Edwards said he'd lost his home and all his possessions, except for a dog that didn't perish in the house fire.
As a result, he'd also lost his independence and was staying with friends in Mundoolun,
Without insurance and deeply in debt even before the fire, Mr Edwards has turned to crowdfunding to try to get some semblance of his life back.
He said more than 60% of his body had burns and he was covered in skin grafts.
"I've got to wear a burns suit 23 hours a day," Mr Edwards said.
"It could take up to two years for my burns to heal.
"(I'd like) to get another ute and get back on my feet."
His treatment includes visits to an occupational therapist and psychiatrist, and he's started taking medication for depression.
Mr Edwards said while the support he was receiving for his depression and from friends had put him "in a better place" and given him a "clearer mind", he was still taking it one day at a time.
Speaking to the Chinchilla News this week, Mr Edwards wished special mention be given to Sen Const Collett and Const Newman, who suffered minor burns to their hands as well as smoke inhalation when they saved his life.
"I'd just like to say thanks to everyone and to the people at the burns unit," he said.
"I've been getting a lot of phone calls, well wishes.
"It's nice to know you're sort of liked and wanted.
"It's a horrible place to be, but it happens."
- If you would like to help Lester Edwards get back on his feet, visit his GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/lesteredwardsfire.
If this story has raised any issues for you or someone you are worried about, help is available any time through Lifeline on 13 11 14.