Ian Stewart, 49, was out on the beach when he saw what he thought was a colorful pebble. He put it in his pocket but he shouldn’t have, the rock was in fact phosphorous, it exploded leaving him badly injured. Moments after the white phosphorus exploded in his back pocket, a mother and daughter who were passing by managed to help get his burning jeans off.
He was able to call his wife, Judith, 44, who arrived on the scene just as an ambulance took him away. Mr Stewart spent three weeks in hospital and underwent several skin grafts. Now recuperating at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, he said:
‘I had been walking along the beach near the old wartime bunker when I saw this nice stone, an orange, amber colour, and thought it would be nice to take home to put with other things I have collected on the beach. There was nothing sinister about it, it looked nice and pretty. All of a sudden it ignited and exploded. My jeans were on fire, my legs were on fire. I tried to get my shoes off. I tried to pull my jeans off and a woman walking past helped as well. There is nothing left of my jeans.’
Mr Stewart added:
‘The whole back of my leg is burned and I have had to have a skin graft. The base of my back is also burnt and I had to have a skin graft there as well.’ The father-of-two is now warning people to be on their guard if out at the beach.