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Photographer, Assistant Severely Burned In Explosion During Photo Shoot

By Hanssie on June 11th 2015

A photographer and a woman believed to be a production assistant (some initial coverage reported that she was the model) were critically injured and hospitalized Tuesday when a photo shoot at a junk yard ended in a horrific explosion. Helmut Montoya, a photographer and filmmaker in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area and the production assistant, were setting up for the photo shoot when the accident occurred. The pair had lit candles inside an inoperable car to use as a backdrop and was setting up lighting when witnesses heard a loud bang and then screams.

The initial investigation states that gas fumes in the air ignited causing possibly a ‘flash explosion.’ Fire Marshall Jeff Lucas states that they believe there was a can nearby with gasoline residue, “The flame was about four feet away from the can where the gasoline residue was. It doesn’t take much for it to travel.


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Montoya, who has been a photographer for over 20 years according to the news report, was badly burned on his hands and face, while the female production assistant was trapped in the car and was burned over 70-80%% of her body. Her injuries are considered to be life threatening. Both are in the trauma center of a nearby hospital, though the identity of the women, believed to be a mother of two, has been withheld. Montoya’s wife said that the two had permission to be on the property, and it was a “freak accident.”


This is a good reminder that whenever you use an open flame or anything flammable, to always be extra careful (which goes without saying) and to always have a fire extinguisher on hand. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Helmut and the production assistant.

[Via NBC Miami]


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Thomas Horton

    That is terrible. Burns are the worst. I hope she gets better.

    Using open flames in a junk yard without first clearing the area of flammables. That is a tough way to learn that lesson.

    Just terrible.

    I was going to make a lamo joke about if the camera was ok, but, there is really nothing funny about this at all.

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  2. Jesper Ek

    Safety first? Be careful out there..

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  3. Barry Chapman

    Such a shame. Some flameless candles would have prevented this. He may have thought it wasn’t such a risk because a car in a junkyard probably wouldn’t have much gas in it. But an empty gas tank is more dangerous than a full one, since it’s the fumes that ignite.

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    • J D

      Very true. An unknown car in a junk yard is the last place I would be putting an open flame. Hopefully both recover fro their injuries.

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