Kerry Thomas, the head brewer at Edge Brewing Co., was burned Friday after a kettle boiled over at the company’s Boise brewery.
Thomas suffered second-degree burns to 30 percent of her body, her husband, Cory Thomas, said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. The burns extended down her right arm from her shoulder down to her foot, along with other places on her torso, he said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration got “an immediate report to come out here,” said Steve Koonce, director of sales and marketing for Edge Brewing Co. The inspector interviewed staff and the assistant brewer and took some video, but Koonce does not know how long it will take for OSHA to release findings.
Thomas is being treated at the University of Utah Burn Center, where she was listed in good condition Monday afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said.
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“They’ll be looking and evaluating over the next 72 hours on which spots they’re going to go in and do surgery, unless they can use a skin graft. So they’re looking at surgery late this week,” said Thomas, who expects his wife to remain at the Utah hospital through the end of the month.
A GoFundMe page was established Monday for the brewer. In the first two hours it raised $1,100. It raised $16,325 by Thursday morning.
The page’s fundraising goal is $100,000.
That amount is to help the family with costs beyond what Edge Brewing’s workers compensation insurance will pay and what Thomas’s health insurance will cover, according to Koonce.
Thomas was taken by air ambulance to Utah for treatment because there is no burn unit in Idaho, Koonce noted.
“It’s kind of crazy that she had to be [transported] from Boise, which is a state capital and a city of 250,000 people, and we don’t have a burn unit ... especially when we have so much manufacturing,” Koonce said.
Kerry Thomas, who previously worked at TableRock Brewpub, was hired as the head brewmaster when Edge opened in February 2014. She was boiling a batch of beer when it expanded, spilling scalding liquid out of the top of the kettle and onto the brew stand where she was standing, said Koonce.
“She threw the hops in there and it started bubbling and boiling and had a bad reaction,” Cory Thomas said. “She turned her back for a moment because she wanted to make sure her assistant was OK and as soon as she turned her back, it just exploded and ‘volcanoed’ all over her.”
Kerry Thomas — also known by her maiden name, Caldwell — jumped the 6 feet from the brew stand onto the floor.
“She was just screaming, I guess, and they sprayed her off with water and rushed her to the hospital,” Cory Thomas said.
By Monday, Kerry Thomas was walking around and was in good spirits as she visited with family members.
“She’s doing better than the rest of us,” Cory Thomas said.
Koonce said Kerry Thomas’ colleagues at Edge were relieved to hear of the progress she’s made.
“It’s very strange to come to work and not see Kerry here,” Koonce said. “We’re now focusing on her recovery.”
The brewery’s president, Marcus Bezuhly, has stepped in as brewer while Thomas recovers, Koonce said.
“We have 20, 25 investors, and we have to maintain a brewpub, and we have to maintain distribution,” he said. “While this is a huge step back, a huge blow to us, we do have a plan.”
Several local craft brewers have scheduled a Kegs for Kerry benefit Saturday at the Boise location of Pre Funk, 1100 W. Front St. After 3 p.m., 100 percent of sales will go to the Thomas family. There will also be a raffle with items donated by area businesses.
Cory Thomas said his family has taken hundreds of calls since his wife was injured Friday afternoon.
“It’s an extremely humbling experience. Kerry and I both acknowledged that. You don’t really realize how many people care about you and how many friends you really have that are true, good people until something like this happens. And for those breweries to offer up free beer — on which their companies profit — in order to support Kerry and our family, that’s pretty amazing,” he said.