Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Surgery done on Gimli fire victim

18-year-old critical; has extensive burns

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A Gimli family who barely fled a house fire with their lives is focused on an 18-year-old man who went inside the burning home to search for his sister.

Widower Greg Welch, 41, and his son, Jordan, 18, are recovering at Health Sciences Centre after they were injured in a New Year's Day fire at their Gimli home.

Greg Welch's brother-in-law, Ian Tarnowski, said Jordan underwent emergency surgery Thursday.

The teen has burns to 65 per cent of his body and has been in a medically induced coma since New Year's Day, Tarnowski said.

He was in critical but stable condition Thursday.

Jordan had gone into the burning home to rescue his 12-year-old sister, Jayda, after thinking she was trapped inside, even though she'd escaped with her father out a back window.

"Our main focus is Jordan right now. It's just him," said Tarnowski.

The children lost their mother to cancer three years ago and a month later, their grandfather died of a heart attack.

Greg Welch suffered a broken neck in the fire, said Tarnowski, but the injury didn't sever his spinal cord and he has full mobility.

He was in stable condition Thursday, said Tarnowski.

Jayda Welch was scratched and bruised in the fire.

She was at home with family and marked her 12th birthday Wednesday.

"I believe she's still in a little bit of shock from what's happened," said Tarnowski.

He said the family has received donations of furniture and clothing.

"It's been unbelievable," he said.

Two trust funds have been set up for the family at the Gimli Credit Union, as well as at CIBCs across Canada.

"They've lost everything," said Tarnowski. "They have nothing.

"They didn't even have the keys for their vehicles."

It's unclear if the family is insured, said Tarnowski.

"I haven't been able to talk to Greg because he had an air tube down his throat."

A fundraising concert has been scheduled for Fraserwood Hall from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 13.

 

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 4, 2013 A12

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