The Ford V8 Sedan was standing on steeply sloping ground, and the fuel outlet pipe to the Carby was high and dry. The owner had nearly flattened the battery trying to start it. So he called on me to help.
Guessing what the trouble was, I filled a 20 litre drum with petrol and poured most of it into the tank, but the state of the battery was too low to pump the fuel up, so I did what I, and many other people had done in the past, put a bit of petrol in a plastic ice-cream bucket, took the big air-cleaner off the top of the carby, tipped a bit of fuel in, stood back and gave the signal to start.
The big motor lurched over and started, but only ran for a few seconds. So we did it again with the same result, the motor wasn't running long enough to get the fuel up to the carby.
While I was tipping the fuel in for another try, the owner hit the starter button again, the motor lurched over, then backfired, and I was right over the top of the carburetor with a container of fuel in my hand.
I saw the bright orange glow deep in the throat of the carby, and I knew what was coming. I tried to throw the container of petrol away, but checked my throw in case there was someone standing there. This caused the fuel to slosh over my arm, hand and body just as the orange glow became a flaming orange torch, setting me ablaze from the waist up.
Panicking, I started to blindly run, but this made the flames roar so I stopped, and began to roll in the long grass. In doing so, I rolled under the low-set timber house with the flames licking at the floor-boards.
Dammit! I didn't want to burn the house down as well, so I crawled back up the hill still burning, to where someone had got the garden hose, turned it on, put the flames out, and then continued to run the cool water over me.
Bloody Hell!...It felt good!
By this time a crowd of onlookers had gathered, but I wasn't really aware of anything excepting the long treacly skeins of melted skin sliding off my hand and arm.
Then it dawned on me! There was absolutely NO PAIN! But only momentarily, then the pain became horrendous. Our family doctor arrived and gave me a very welcome pain-killer shot.
There was an ambulance trip to the local hospital where they estimated my burns at 60% of total body surface area, with a high percentage of full thickness burns.