MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The community is rallying support around a Montgomery native and retired fire lieutenant and his family this holiday season.
Last week, 45-year-old, Charlie Ford was severely burned during a weekend hunting trip in West Alabama and is now recovering in a hospital.
As far back as Madeline Pendley can remember, her uncle has always been an avid outdoorsman.
"When he is not working he is in the woods," said Pendley.
On Dec. 16 during a hunting trip in Marengo County, Ford's life was almost cut short.
"This was just another hunting trip and never saw this coming," said Pendley.
While using the fire pit from the night before, Ford attempted to start a new fire. Without knowing there were embers still present, when he approached the pit with a gas can there was an explosion.
"He suffered significant burn trauma. Burns ranging from first to third-degree on his hands, face and torso," said Pendley. "Other than on his face they're also in his nasal passages and in his mouth. He is lucky he did not have internal damage as far as his lungs."
Charlie is now recovering at UAB Hospital in Birmingham. He has moved out of the ICU Burn Unit, undergone skin grafting procedures and has started occupational and physical therapy.
"Believe it or not he has maintained his sense of humor. Charlie Ford is tough as nails. So if anyone can come back from this he certainly can," said Pendley.
The outpouring of support for Ford, a Montgomery native and retired lieutenant with Montgomery Fire/Rescue has been overwhelming.
"He has been fielding calls and texts from friends and family. Prayers are also invaluable," Pendley said.
Pendley started a GoFundMe to help lift some of the financial burden for her uncle and his family as they face the long recovery ahead. Already more than $6,000 has been raised.
"I think this is just a testament of how great of a man, husband, father and grandfather he is. We are incredibly grateful to have him here," said Pendley.
Ford is expected to be in the hospital for at least a month so he will not make it back home for the holidays. Pendley says their family plans to take Christmas to him as he continues to recover at UAB.