A Duluth, Minnesota, homeowner regrets not hiring a professional service technician after he was severely burned while attempting to connect his pool heater to a propane gas line.
He said it could have been avoided if he’d left it to the experts, and now he’s sharing his story so others can learn from his mistake.
Mike Letica was trying to connect the components when he began to smell gas.
“I was going to shut the gas off and I thought … I’ll walk over 50 feet to get a pipe wrench,” Letica said. “I took my first step there, boom, this huge explosion as soon as I took a step. So, if I would have reached down and shut that off then, it would have blew up right in my face.”
In the moment it was happening, he said he couldn’t really understand what was going on.
“It was the scariest thing,” Letica said. “I didn’t know if I was on fire or what. It was like a bubble around me, like it was foggy. But it was a bubble all the way around me and I couldn’t see and it only lasted probably a second or two.”
The explosion resulted in first- and second-degree burns to his legs, and he said the pain was enormous.
“I’ve had knee surgeries, replacements, shoulder replacements. I’ve had problems on my side,” Letica said. “I’ve never experienced a pain like this.”
Meanwhile, he said everything he did while attempting to hook up the heater was wrong — it was all hooked up incorrectly.
“You don’t think about things like this until it happens,” Letica said. “And like I said, if I can stop one or two hundred people from doing something stupid with propane, whether it’s this, whether it’s a fireplace, whatever it is, you smell propane, shut it off and just let somebody else deal with it or change a tank or whatever you need to do. But yeah, this is — it’s really bad stuff. And I’m telling you that I never want to have this happen again, to me or anybody else. It’s a different kind of pain.”