By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A Havre woman who was badly burned in a house fire last month is being treated in a Salt Lake City hospital.
Eldora Bauer, 47, suffered second- and third-degree burns on her arms and legs after her clothes ignited in a kitchen fire on March 19, Havre Fire Chief Dave Sheppard said. Bauer was taken to the Intermountain Burn Center in Salt Lake City the following day.
A spokesman for the hospital's burn unit said today he could not comment on her condition.
Bauer has undergone skin grafts and more are expected this week, friends and family said today. Doctors expect Bauer to remain in the hospital until late May or early June, her mother, Olive Bauer, said. Her daughter will likely need extensive physical therapy, she added.
Olive Bauer has placed donation cans in area businesses and created a special fund at Bear Paw Credit Union so area people can help defray the cost of extended medical care, including rehabilitation and additional skin grafts.
The two talk by phone, but Olive Bauer has been unable to visit her daughter, she said.
"Its too far and I don't have enough money," she said.
Eldora Bauer's husband, Gary Lankford, said his wife's absence has been difficult for the couple's two daughters. Leeona Bauer, 13, and Claren Bauer, 14, are both students at Havre Middle School.
"It's been tough on the girls," Lankford said. "It really bothers them, and they miss their mother."
Bauer has an older son, Jacob Bauer, who lives in Kalispell. He could not be reached for comment today.
The fire started early in the afternoon at Eldora Bauer's residence in the 800 block of Third Street, Sheppard said.
Dispatch received a 911 call at 12:26 p.m., he said. A fire engine and an ambulance responded to the call. The severely burned Bauer was transported to Northern Montana Hospital, he said.
Sheppard said the fire started while Bauer was making candles.
"She was melting wax in a small saucepan on the stove," he said. "Apparently some of the wax spilled and ignited. She dropped the pan, and a throw rug on the floor subsequently ignited," he said.
Lankford said he made the call to 911.
"I was watching TV when I heard my wife scream," he said. "I can't believe this happened. It wasn't supposed to happen. She was making candles just like her friend showed her, but something went wrong."
Lankford said his wife ran outside as her clothes burned. He suppressed the fire by making her roll on the ground. Lankford's friend, Randy Morsette, contained the fire in the kitchen just prior to the Fire Department arriving, he added.
"I'm thankful the girls were in school when it happened," Lankford said. "Eldora wouldn't have wanted them to see her like that."
Like Olive Bauer, Lankford's only contact with Eldora has been by telephone. He continues to save money to make a trip to see her, he said, hopefully by sometime next week.
"Right now it's a bridge I can't cross financially," he said. "I really hope I can make the trip. My wife said just to surprise her by walking through the door, and that's what I'm going to do."
Lankford said his wife is making progress in her recovery.
"It's coming but it's slow," he said. "She's working really hard."
"We miss her," Olive Bauer said. "I want her to hurry up and get well and come home."