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Thursday, December 2nd, 2010 -- 11:18 AM

A 46-year-old Neillsville man is back at home and continuing his miraculous recovery from a nearly fatal explosion and fire.

Bruce LeBlanc suffered 3rd degree burns over 69% of his body after he accidentally dropped a cigarette on the gas cans he was carrying in his garage. The garage was completely destroyed, and medical personnel weren?t sure he was going to make it.

His wife, Pam, says he?s made amazing strides since being airlifted to the UW-Madison Burn Center that fateful October 2.

"The first week we were were being told they weren't sure if he was going to live," she recalls.

Even after LeBlanc turned the corner, doctors still thought he?d have to be in the hospital until at least Christmas, but his recovery was stunning.

"It's amazing but there isn't a mark on his face. He occasionally breaks out into red streaks on his face. For the first two weeks, you wouldn't have known it was him," she says.

The damage to his arms and legs was a little more severe, but he continues to work hard at physical therapy, and his range of motion is improving.

Still, the family is facing some daunting challenges. Just the process of getting ready in the morning and changing bandages takes hours. He has three days of physical therapy at the hospital and another three hours at home every day. Plus, some of his nerves were damaged during the fire, they?re coming back now and it?s more painful than it has been at anytime of the recovery.

And then there are the finances.

"We have good house insurance, but we have no medical insurance. (The medical bill) is close to $250,000."

Strike Time Lanes in Neillsville is hosting a benefit for the family on Sunday afternoon from 1 until 6 p.m. Pam says they?re trying to keep it a secret for Bruce, so don?t tell him anything if you see him.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.