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Accident Injures Spokane Couple Tourists Burned In Nashville Transformer Explosion

A Spokane couple vacationing in Nashville, Tenn., was critically burned Friday when an explosion ripped through a construction site there, authorities said.

Don and Irma Wilson, both 64, were in stable condition in a Nashville hospital late Friday, but had burns over much of their bodies, family members said.

“Right now, they expect them to survive, but anything can happen with burns,” said their son, Randy Wilson of Spokane. “They need a lot of prayers right now.”

The Wilsons are Washington natives and 30-year residents of Spokane. They own an independent insurance firm - the Don Wilson Agency - on West Garland in Spokane.

Randy Wilson said his father is semi-retired, but his mother works regularly as the office receptionist. “She’s our Girl Friday,” he said.

The couple is active in community affairs, their son added. Don Wilson is a member of the Union Gospel Mission’s board of directors. He and his wife also served as volunteers for the Meals on Wheels program and Habitat for Humanity. They also are longtime members of the Northwood Presbyterian Church.

The couple - parents of three and grandparents of four - left Spokane on Thursday for a two-week tour of the Southeast, their son said. Nashville was their first stop on a trip that was to include stays in Memphis, Tenn., and the Carolinas.

They had been planning the trip since spring and were particularly excited to catch a show at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, said their neighbors, Jerry and Hilde Swords.

The Wilsons were walking past a construction site where crews were erecting a new restaurant when an electrical transformer exploded, witnesses said.

“I heard an explosion, turned around and saw a big ball of flames. It shot up to the second story,” said Phil Cunningham, a construction worker remodeling a nearby building.

The flames ignited the Wilsons’ clothing, authorities said.

Cunningham said Don Wilson tried to extinguish the flames consuming his wife’s clothes even as his own burned out of control. “They couldn’t get her out,” Cunningham said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = From staff and wire reports The Associated Press, and staff writers Adam Lynn and Robin Rivers contributed to this report.


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