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Burn victim almost home: Stark County man meets newborn daughter after waking up in hospital

Stark County resident Brian Chorne holds his 1-month-old daughter Kenzie on March 13 in Mandan.

After spending several weeks in a Colorado burn unit, a Stark County man is back in North Dakota and could return home within days.

Following injuries sustained in a propane explosion at his farm just north of South Heart, Brian Chorne was flown to the Western States Burn Center in Greeley, Colo., where he spent more than two weeks under sedation.

Unable to speak until about a week ago (partly due to a trachea), Chorne said Tuesday from Sanford Health Continuing Care Center off Collins in Mandan that he's ready to head home soon, possibly as early as next week.

"I feel good," Chorne said. "Everything's healing up pretty good. I'm making progress every day. Hopefully, I'll be back at home very soon."

It was estimated that close to 80 percent of the middle portion of Chorne's body was burned, although most of the wounds were classified as second-degree burns, Chorne said.

When he finally woke up last month, Chorne, 35, said he was surprised to learn he had been unconscious for weeks, but it wasn't the only surprise he had: Chorne's wife, Melody, had given birth to the couple's daughter, Kenzie, on Valentine's Day.

"It was a joyful moment when I heard that my little girl came into the world all right," Chorne said. "I kind of found out from everyone all at the same time. It was exciting."

Chorne said the accident happened Jan. 28 when he was working on a water well on the family's farm, attempting to warm the frozen well lining with a small propane heater.

"I had the heater down there and I went to check on it after a while with a lit cigarette in my mouth," Chorne said. "I didn't smell any propone initially, but the propane gas was ignited once I climbed down. The heater must have blown out and was just spewing out gas. All I was thinking at that point was 'stop, drop and roll."'

Amazingly, Chorne said the ordeal hasn't been particularly physically painful. A materials tester with tech services company STRATA, based out of Boise, Idaho, Chorne said he hopes to return to work soon and doesn't expect any long-term debilitation.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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