Nature photographer Craig Blacklock announced in an email today that he’s been recovering from burns he received in a bad electrical fire in November. He said he didn’t say anything before because he wanted to protect his wife, honey, and daughter, Charis. And he wasn’t sure how the recovery was going to go.
“The good news is that I am healing very well. And while we know I will eventually make a full physical recovery, the loss of time at work has devastated our finances. So this email is to fill you in on what happened to me, and how you can help, should you wish to contribute to our family’s financial recovery.
“The day of the fire, I had previously lit a fire in the sauna stove. When I was taking wash water out a couple hours later, I saw smoke coming from the sauna eaves. Hoping to be able to put it out with the bucket of water in my hand, I went in to investigate, but never found any flames around the stove or chimney. I realized there was nothing I could do. I exited through a back door, the farthest away from the sauna stove. I remember opening the door, then nothing more until I came to, badly burned, face down in the snow, 20 feet outside the building. I was able to get back inside the cabin, where friends helped call for emergency crews. We later learned an electrical short near the back door caused the fire, and the circuit breaker never tripped.
“The rest of the details and some photos and links are in this link http://www.gofundme.com/tc4dx4.
“I am now well on my way to making what should be a full physical recovery. However, I have been unable to do much work as a landscape photographer, and was not even able to do Photoshop for months after the burn. Fortunately, we had good medical insurance, but because I am self-employed, there is no worker’s compensation to make up for my lost income. Honey stepped up and cared for me, on top of everything else she does for our family and helping at my gallery.
“We have lost about 1/3 of a year’s income from my injuries. Many of you have asked how you can help out. Frankly, we need financial help. There are several ways you can assist in this way:
Attend a one day/night benefit exhibition of my work at Gallery 13, 811 LaSalle Ave. in Mpls. June 24th from 7-10. The event is free and open to the public, with a suggested free-will donation of $20. I will have my books and around 16 large photographs for sale. This will be the debut showing of a new series of photographs of Lake Superior beach stones. For me, each stone, with its history of fractures and intrusions, is a poignant metaphor for my burns, subsequent skin grafts and recovery.
“The first 100 families attending the evening event will receive a copy of my book, Horizons, along with a $100 gift certificate good towards any of my photographs purchased at the event or through Blacklock Photography Gallery in Moose Lake.
“Butch Thompson, of Prairie Home Companion fame will provide classic jazz entertainment. This is a continuation of our fundraising efforts, but even more, a way to celebrate how much healing I’ve done, and a way to thank everyone who has helped us along the way. It should be a very fun evening!”
His friends have set up a fundraising page, noting that Blacklock has always contributed his photos and books to other fundraisers.
By March Craig returned to editing photographs at his computer fulltime. However, to create the images so many of us love, he needs to be able to hike with many pounds of equipment — still and video cameras, lenses, and 2 tripods. His usual summers involve long-distance trips by kayak or canoe in wilderness areas. The coming summer remains uncertain. His skin grafts are safely established, but still fragile.
Craig and Honey live simply and try to do things right. One of those things is disability insurance, which Craig has had for 30 years. However, those policies have 6-month deductible periods, thus he will not receive any benefits from them and because he is self-employed, he has no worker’s compensation. Luckily their health insurance will pay for most of Craig’s medical bills. But they’ve had many extra expenses — like all the trips to Duluth to visit him in the hospital, many trips for doctors’ appointments after Craig’s discharge and many over-the-counter medical supplies. He must wear compression gloves for 23 hours a day for a year to reduce scarring. To jump-start the compression he needs several pairs lined with silicon, made by only one “out-of-network” company in Arizona. For now, the Blacklocks must pay $600 for each pair of gloves. Additionally, Honey’s time and care giving will never be reimbursed by their health insurance, even though she provided a tremendous savings to BlueCross for her weeks of wound care. Time she otherwise could have put in working at their gallery.
The Blacklocks know they are lucky. Craig survived the fire and didn’t die of hypothermia when he passed out in the snow after his escape from the burning building — temps were well below zero that night. He does not remember actually getting burned, so he hasn’t had traumatic flashbacks. Craig got quick and expert medical treatment, and wonderful support from friends and family. His weeks in the hospital and personal experiences as a burn patient gave him so many ideas for future work. He’s especially anxious to continue his collaboration with the University of MN’s Center for Spirituality and Healing , and possibly the American Burn Association, to create nature videos specifically to help other burn patients recover. In the mean time, Craig is making the most of his “convalescence”, working like crazy, editing images that “piled up” on hard-drives over the last five years.
Blacklock’s first wife, Nadine, was killed in a 1998 car crash in Two Harbors.