A dad claims being fat saved his life when half his body was set ablaze in a freak accident.

Paul Harrison, 34, has returned to work at a Sheffield gin distillery a year after suffering horrific first and second degree burns in an explosion.

He was in a coma for almost two weeks after compressed alcohol at 85C squirted out and ignited propane gas on May 26 2020, YorkshireLive reports.

The Barnsley dad suffered serious scalding to his hands, arms, face and torso working at the site at the back of The Commercial pub in Chapeltown.

He said he watched his palms "fall off" in the aftermath of the fire and recalls his initial time in hospital as like having an "out of body experience" before he was put in a coma.

Speaking for the first time since the horrific accident, he told YorkshireLive: "If I had been 10 years older I wouldn't be here and if I had been any shorter I wouldn't be here because I would have got it full frontal in the face.

"If I had been any slimmer too I probably wouldn't be here so there was a benefit to being overweight.

"I feel very lucky and there was a 55% chance of survival and 45% the other way because of the extent of my injuries."

Recalling the moment he was engulfed in flames, Paul said: "The botanicals got blocked at the top of the still which created a pressure build-up.

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"Liquid doesn't like being compressed so it squirted out at 85C which scalded me first and then because we were using a propane burner that ignited it and the whole lot went up.

"Now the little still is no longer in use.

"That is a decorative item now and we just use the big still which poses no risk whatsoever."

Paul was rushed to Sheffield's Northern General Hospital before being transferred to Pinderfields Hospital's special burns unit.

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He spent 10 weeks there receiving treatment including 10 days in a coma.

Paul, who lives with his wife Hannah and their children, had to undergo "webbing work" after he lost the skin in between his fingers.

As the accident happened during the first lockdown, Paul was separated from his family while he was in a coma.

He did not see his eldest daughter for over six months and his wife had to ring the ICU for daily updates on Paul's condition.

His scars could take another year to fully heal and he admits there is still a long road to recovery but he is hopeful for the future.

The Health and Safety Executive ruled that the fire was a "freak accident" and after returning to work, initially in admin, Paul is now back in the distillery and is celebrating after the company's vodka and gin won awards.

He said he wasn't rushed back to work and thanked hospital staff.

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