Phillip Shelton suffered second-degree burns on various parts of his body while he was battling a coal bunker fire at the plant.
Lt. Don Tankersley, who helped transport family members to Augusta, Ga., after the incident, said Shelton has undergone skin-grafting procedures.
Shelton had burns over 25 percent of his body, according to reports from BCFR Chief Dewey Woody.
Doctors at the Joseph Still Burn Center in Augusta are remaining optimistic Shelton’s lungs will be OK, but are keeping him on a breathing apparatus.
“His lungs were not severely damaged,” said Tankersley.
Doctors also noticed bruising on one of Shelton’s lower legs. Tankersley said Shelton’s leg was not broken, but possibly sprained.
“They are keeping him sedated. It will help him recover,” said Tankersley.
Shelton is a longtime member of Bradley County Fire Rescue and is captain of Station 9 in Charleston.
The incident at Bowater was believed to have been caused by coal dust, according to Sharon Johnson, director of U.S. Public Relations for Abitibi Bowater.
Tankersley said hospital officials believe Shelton will be hospitalized at the burn center for approximately three weeks.
“Phillip’s family is holding up well and continues to stay near him,” said Tankersley.
An investigation into the cause of the explosion and fire at the mill is being conducted, according to Johnson.