A businessman is in a critical condition in hospital after being set alight by a fireball from a garden bonfire. Lee Vine, the owner of Lee Motorcycles in Homend Trading Estate, Ledbury, was airlifted from his home in Falcon Lane to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital after suffering 50 per cent burns to his body. The incident happened at his home at about 1.30pm on Sunday, and since then the 50-year-old’s devastated family have been keeping vigil at his bedside. Lyn Wall, his partner, said Mr Vine had been burning rubbish from Christmas in the garden when she heard him screaming. “The first thing I knew was when I saw him running across the lawn in flames,” she said. “Something on the bonfire must have exploded. “Thankfully he had the good sense to throw himself into the ditch. “Thank goodness it has been raining because it was full of water and that saved him. It’s horrible but we feel very lucky to still have him alive – it could have been so much worse.” Ms Wall said he had suffered severe burns everywhere except for his face – particularly to his hands, legs and the left side of his body. He is expected to need at least two more operations and will remain in hospital for several more weeks as he recovers. Two fire crews from Ledbury joined police and ambulance staff at the incident. Station Commander Martin Lown, of Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Crews arrived at the property to find a casualty being treated for severe burns believed to have been caused by a fireball from an out-of-control garden bonfire.
“The fire is being treated as accidental but it highlights the need to take extreme care if lighting a bonfire in your garden.” He warned that people should light fires in a suitable spot well away from the house, wooden fences or sheds, and burn only natural materials. Hazardous items such as aerosol cans, spent fireworks, dry cell batteries or flammable liquids should never be disposed of on a bonfire. Mr Vine has two children, Luke and Leanne, and a step-son, Sam.