Patrick Hardison was a volunteer firefighter in small-town Mississippi when the accident happened. A house was in flames, with a person trapped, and the roof collapsed just after Mr. Hardison raced inside. His helmet was knocked off; he felt his mask melting. He closed his eyes and jumped out the window.
The young man lost his eyelids, ears, lips, most of his nose and his hair that day. He also had disfiguring third-degree burns across his entire face, head, neck and upper torso. His skin was so badly damaged that he was not even able to close his eyes completely.