MB mechanic burned in explosion

A Myrtle Beach mechanic was badly burned in an explosion Monday and flown to a burn center in Georgia.

Jim Neal was working on an early 1980s model MG car when an explosion sent a mixture of antifreeze and fuel onto his body around 2 p.m., said supervisor Tom Killian with Hyatt Buick, located off U.S. 17 Bypass at 922 Frontage Road E.

Neal suffered significant burns and was taken to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., said Assistant Chief Dan Cimini with the Myrtle Beach Fire Department.

"He was conscious and talking," Cimini said. "He was in a lot of pain, but they medicated him, which helped relieve some of the pain."

"They allowed his wife and daughter to see him before he took off," for the 45-minute helicopter flight to Augusta, Cimini said.

Neither the cause of the fire, nor Neal's condition, were available Monday night.

"Some of it was antifreeze, but antifreeze does not burn like that, so we think there was some fuel in it, too," Killian said.

Employees used an extinguisher to put out the fire before calling 911.

A Carolina Lifecare helicopter responded to the scene, but had to circle the area around the dealership for about 10 minutes because fire officials could not find an adequate place to land.

Emergency crews eventually landed in a small field across 10th Avenue North from a Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Neal was taken via ambulance to that location, then flown away.