Clarence Houle will spend the Christmas in the hospital. The 18 year old suffered burns to 95 percent of his body after his home was deliberately set on fire.
Houle was asleep in his Dauphin home in late August when the house went up in flames.
'I asked the doctors if I was going to die, and they weren’t answering. They just kept saying, "Keep breathing, Clarence."' - Clarence Houle, who suffered burns to 95 per cent of his body in an intentionally set fire
“I had to make a quick decision to either jump out the window or go through the fire, and the window was stuck shut so I had to go through it,” said Houle.
He said when he approached the flames he felt an explosion, and his skin caught fire.
“I remember that pain. It was so horrible, and my scream, it was like a sound effect,” he said.
Houle was rushed to hospital, where he said he wasn’t sure if he would live or die.
“I just closed my eyes. I accepted the fact that I was going to go,” he said. “I asked the doctors if I was going to die, and they weren’t answering. They just kept saying, ‘Keep breathing, Clarence.’”
Houle did keep breathing, and now, months later, is recovering in a Winnipeg hospital.
The 18 year old spent his October birthday in the hospital, recovering from painful burns.
Three people were able to escape with minor injuries, but Houle would suffer burns to 95 per cent of his body.
He now uses a pencil to tap on a computer, as his hands are too severely burned to type.
Not only is Houle dealing with his recovery, but he’s coping with the fact someone set it intentionally.
24-year-old Sean Nepinak and 22-year-old Seamus Nepinak have been charged with arson with disregard for human life in the case.
Houle said he believes he knows why the fire was set.
Prior to the incident, gang members had attacked his cousin. Houle, who has no gang ties, tried to intervene, telling them to pick on him instead.
“I taunted them online. I just thought they were just wannabes – too scared to do anything,” he said.
Now, four months into his recovery, he said his family has been a huge support in his recovery.
For his mother, Anne-Marie Baptiste, the sense of helplessness is difficult.
Baptiste has watched her son endure 13 surgeries over 111 days in the hospital.
“To see him in pain, and I can’t help him,” she said.
Houle said his family has been what has kept him going. He’s looking forward to holding his two-year-old daughter Kiara again.
“I am staying strong for my daughter, that’s who I am staying strong for because I don’t want her to lose me,” Houle.