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February 5, 2013

Pelham man recovering from explosion

PELHAM — There are few things Ryan Gagne loves more than ice fishing.

The 28-year-old Pelham man relishes sleeping out on the ice of Lake Winnipesaukee in his bob-house, then waking up early to drop his fishing line through the ice, according to his father-in-law, Mike Hamlin of Gilford.

Hamlin was expected to visit his son-in-law out on the ice Sunday morning, but never made it.

Gagne and a friend, Kevin Fitzpatrick of Manchester, were injured when their portable propane heater exploded at about 2 a.m., causing a flash fire that burned both men.

Fitzpatrick, formerly of Pelham, received minor burns, but Gagne was flown by medical helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“They were in a big ball of fire that blew off the side of the bob-house,” Hamlin said. “He is lucky to be alive.”

Both men were sleeping at the time, he said. Although the men and their equipment were burned, the bob-house sustained little damage, Hamlin said.

Gagne is in critical condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit, heavily sedated as he recuperates from second-degree burns to his arms, legs, head and face, and possible third-degree burns to his hands, Hamlin said.

Gagne awoke from a drug-induced coma yesterday afternoon, feeling very emotional and worried about his friend, Hamlin said.

“He feels bad,” Hamlin said. “He said he’s sorry it happened.”

Hamlin is confident his son-in-law will pull through, but said he faces a long recovery. Gagne’s wife, Holly, and other family members are at side, he said. The couple have a 2-year-old daughter, Bella.

Hamlin said Gagne loves ice fishing and was especially looking forward to sleeping in the bob-house and participating in an ice fishing derby on the lake with a cousin this weekend.

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