Lewes firefighter burned while working in Lincoln

Jake Slater faces multiple surgeries
April 1, 2017

Lewes firefighter Jake Slater is facing surgery on his legs, hands and arm as he battles burns on 80 percent of his body.

The 21-year-old was using a chop saw to cut open a waste oil tank March 28 at Delmarva Petoleum in Lincoln when, fire officials say, sparks from the chop saw ignited vapors, causing an explosion and flash fire.

Slater suffered second- and third-degree burns to 80 percent of his body, and he is now at Johns Hopkins burn unit in Baltimore.

Sharon Slater, Jake's mother, said she is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support she has received from the community.

“My head is spinning from all the support we've gotten,” she said.

Sharon, her husband and daughter, and Jake's fiancee Kelsey Jansen are taking shifts at his bedside. The couple became engaged to marry the night before the accident, and they have a son who is almost 1.

On the morning of March 30, Sharon said Jake was getting ready for the first of many surgeries he will endure to repair his body. She said doctors will work on his legs, but they are also concerned with his hands and right arm.

“This is the first of we don't know how many surgeries he'll have,” Sharon said. “We really take this one day at a time.”

Glenn Marshall, spokesman for the Lewes Fire Department, said he has known Slater since 2011 when Slater joined the department as a junior firefighter.

“I still consider him a kid,” Marshall said. “He's a great young man with a lot of passion for the fire service.”

Marshall said Slater, a 2014 Cape High grad, started as a junior firefighter, and he is now a fire captain.

“We watched him grow up and into this,” he said. “This was a kid who was getting into a life routine.”

To help with hospital expenses, several businesses are sponsoring fundraisers.

Impact Graphix in Bridgeville, owned by Jansen's brother, is selling 3-by-5-inch stickers for $2 with all proceeds going to defray Jake's hospital expenses. The stickers show the state of Delaware with a U.S. flag and #JakeStrong. A Facebook post states the company will be making similar T-shirts in a few days. For more information, call 337-7076.

The Greene Turtle in Lewes will hold a fundraiser Tuesday, April 4, giving 20 percent of each purchase to Jake.

A gofundme account to help pay for Slater's hospital expenses was started the day of the explosion and has already raised more than $9,500.

Sharon said she and her family appreciate everything everyone is doing for Jake. And she knows there is a long, hard road ahead.

“The true aches and pains are yet to come,” Sharon said.