A Newport street food chef has recalled the moment he almost died when a generator he was topping up with petrol exploded in his face, setting fire to his van while he was still inside. Dad-of-three Mark Fredrickson, who runs Little Steak Hut based at the city’s Spytty Retail Park, ended up risking his life dragging the blazing machinery onto the road outside in a desperate attempt to save his business from being destroyed back in October 2020.
As a result the 45-year-old, who incurred horrific third degree burns, had to spend several weeks at Swansea’s Morriston Hospital. He was forbidden from seeing his family the entire time, the accident having happened during the height of Wales’ Covid restrictions.
“I was just opening up the van and decided to top up the generator,” said Mark, who’s just picked up a top national street food award. “But a slight spill of petrol onto the engine caused a blowback of flames to explode in my face.
Read more: Man taken to hospital after Newport assault
“I should have ran out of the van and let it blow up but I tried to save my business and drag the generator outside. That’s when my clothing caught fire and I had to run around the car park trying to put myself out. Because I was in shock it wasn’t until I was in the ambulance that the pain kicked in. I could see my skin bubbling and smell it burning – it was unbearable.
Warning: Some may find the below images upsetting
“The worst part of it all though was being in hospital during the height of Covid – no one could come to see me. Three months being away from my wife and kids was very hard – it almost broke me mentally because all I could think about was how I was going to support them financially if I wasn’t able to work.
Indeed, the dad would find himself laid up with no income for another three months. However, it’s testament to how much Mark, who does a lot to help the city’s homeless, is appreciated by his customers that a fundraiser was quickly set up for him by one punter which managed to raise more than £1,700 in the first 21 hours.
Since then the business, which Mark left his full-time job as a warehouse worker to set up, has gone from strength to strength, last week winning in the Best Street Food category at Food Awards Wales 2022, held in Cardiff. It also took home the gong for Best Takeaway in the Best of Welsh Business Awards earlier this year.
“I’d like to thank everyone for voting for me and anyone who has helped me in any way,” he said. “I hope that I have made my family and friends proud.”