Due to an electrical fire resulting in at least one man being severely burned, the Walmart location in Graham is closed at least for the duration of Thursday.
Graham Fire Rescue firefighter Justin Ash was one of several who responded to the fire at the store on Highway 16. Ash said the fire, which occurred at about 6 p.m., was limited to the loading dock at the rear of the store.
“Apparently there was an electrician working, changing out some breakers back there, and somehow shorted something out,” Ash said. “His hands got third degree burns, and he got shocked.”
Ash said that some of the Walmart employees retrieved extinguishers to douse the electrician, whose torso and shirt caught on fire, and they extinguished him.
Immediately after the fire crew arrived, Ash said that paramedics tended to the electrician and put him in the back of an ambulance. Asked whether the still unidentified electrician was the only person injured, the firefighter said that he believed that to be true.
GRMC EMS Director Kelly Hudson confirmed that the electrician was working on some type of electrical box, and it shorted. He received third degree burns on his hands, and he had on a kind of a nylon shirt and that caught fire. Hudson also confirmed that the electrician was flown to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
“It was some serious injuries, but he was walking and talking,” Hudson said. “He was conscious and alert and talking to the crew here and the flight crew on the way to Parkland.”
Hudson said the most serious burns were limited to his hands.
“His hands had third degree burns, and he was also burned on his torso and upper body, but not as severely," he said.
The exact cause of the fire is not known, and Ash said that the Graham Police Department is currently investigating the matter.
As of 8 p.m., Wednesday evening, Walmart, employees were standing at the front of each entrance to the store telling drivers that the store was closed due to an electrical problem.
By Thursday morning, Young County Sheriff's Deputy David Aleshire stood at the south entrance to the store, granting certain employees entrance but informing customers that Walmart was closed and he couldn't specify when it would reopen. Aleshire could confirm that the store would remain closed for at least the duration of Thursday.
The Graham Leader called GPD Chief Tony Widner Thursday at 8 a.m., and Widner said that a report from the department would be forthcoming.
The Graham Leader will update this story as events become known.