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Coupeville man burned in accident

"Cheryl Engle says it's hard for her family to ask for help when they know there are others out there with dire needs.But their friends didn't think twice about offering every kind of support possible after Robert A. Engle was badly burned during an accident on the family's Coupeville farm last Tuesday.They've set up a Bob Engle account at Whidbey Island Bank and are asking the community for donations to help with the family's giant medical bills and other costs.We've been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people and the outpouring of love, she said.According to Cheryl, her 59-year-old husband was trying to start a truck by pouring a small amount of gasoline on the carburetor, a commonly-used trick to force ignition.The engine backfired and caught Engle's gasoline soaked clothes on fire. Luckily, his brother and a friend were with him and were able to help extinguish the flames.They did everything right. Stop, drop and roll, Cheryl said. But it was hard to put out the fire because of the gasoline.The men brought Engle to Whidbey General Hospital, where he was immediately airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment. She said he was there within an hour after the accident.Cheryl said that her husband sustained serious burns all over the left side of his body, including his ear, neck and arm. But he has healed enough to be able to come home Sunday.He's coming along nicely, considering, she said.At Harborview, Cheryl said doctors told them that this type of accident is very common this time of the year since people aren't aware of the dangers of starting an engine that way.Hopefully, others can learn a lesson from this, she said.For now, she said Bob is in a world of pain and is pretty much confined to home because of the possibility of infection associated with serious burns. He'll have to undergo surgeries and grafting in the future, which Cheryl says will mean an endless number of trips to Seattle.Unfortunately, hardship isn't anything new for the well-known Central Whidbey family. The couple was involved in the highly-publicized bankruptcy of the large Engle Farm dairy operation.Even so, Cheryl said all the support from the community and the fund-raising effort has them a little embarrassed.I don't know how to react, she said. There are so many people who are hurting worse than us. But on the other hand, we can certainly use the help. "

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