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Taxi driver engulfed in hand sanitiser fireball when he tested lighter

A taxi driver suffered horrific burns while testing a lighter left behind by a customer when it ignited the sanitiser he had just rubbed into his hands.

Brian Hutchinson, 42, says he has ‘gone to hell and back’ over the last seven weeks enduring multiple operations and skin grafts at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle to try and heal them.

The dad-of-two was cleaning out his cab while waiting for another fare when the freak accident occurred.

He said: ‘I noticed there was a dropped lighter in the back seat off my car. I had just sanitised my hands so rubbed the palm on my leg to dry them, but the tops of my hands were still wet.

‘I picked the lighter up and sparked it to see if worked.

‘The back of my hand then caught a light, then as I went to open the door to throw the lighter, my other hand caught a light, then there was like a fireball inside the car that hit my face and went over my head.

‘It lasted literally seconds but as you’ve seen from the pictures it has left me worse for wear.’



Brian said he went into shock before the paramedics arrived and couldn’t stop shaking.

He was immediately given morphine but said: ‘When that wore off I knew about it – the pain was horrendous.’

The cabbie is finally back at home, but now faces a long road to recovery and has to wear pressure garments on his skin, possibly for years to come.


Brian said the hand sanitiser he was using was made up from a mixture of different solutions he had purchased over the previous couple of months and added to one bottle to keep in his car.

He added: ‘I was buying loads from different places and putting it into a bigger bottle as it was easier to put on due to being a taxi driver.’


Brian’s second child, who is now just five weeks old, was born while he was still in hospital.

He said: ‘I want to say a big thankyou to all the staff on Ward 37 burns unit at the RVI, I appreciate everything they have done for me.’

Brian has been left unable to work due to his injuries and a fundraising page has been set up to help him cope financially in already difficult times.

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