Watch: AJ Pritchard recalls moment girlfriend Abbie Quinnen was 'engulfed in flames'
The 26-year-old I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! contestant has opened up about the trauma of watching 23-year-old dancer Abbie Quinnen suffer third-degree burns – admitting he still wakes up in the night thinking about the event.
Pritchard told The Sun: "It was just a complete freak accident and what is scary was that helplessness. It felt like time stopped for me. What was seconds, felt like hours to put out the flames. Abbie’s hair was on fire. Her top was on fire. Her body was engulfed."
The professional dancer revealed he put wet towels on Quinnen to cool her skin before calling 999. She was then rushed to London's Ealing Hospital, 20 minutes from their home, and taken to intensive care where the initial concern was her breathing and eye sight.
Pritchard revealed: "After I handed her over to the nurses and sat in the car, I just couldn’t even speak... I was just a complete mess and completely emotionally torn apart inside and I sat in the car, physically shaking. I couldn’t be all over the place in front of her. When she was handed over, I just was gone.”
Quinnen also underwent skin grafts and Pritchard admitted that since she recovered from the accident she has been worried about the long-term effects on her appearance as she will be left with "small scars" on parts of her body.
Speaking about the moment she returned home after four days in hospital, he said: “I could only really see parts of her face, her arms were bandaged, her face and everything was bandaged.
"She didn’t want me to see her. But as soon as I did see her, I just held her hand and got her home."
The life hack the couple were attempting to recreate for their Instagram accounts involves cutting a wine bottle in half using string dipped in flammable liquid, wrapped around the bottle and then set alight.
The Strictly star – whose younger brother is dancer Curtis Pritchard – admitted they had both been traumatised by the event.
He said: “It’s not actually caught on camera because this was done before the camera was turned on. Unfortunately, my brain is a camera and it will never forget what was seen. And thinking about it is hard.
“It is very traumatic. Certain nights, I do wake up and think about what’s happened and especially if I’m watching TV and the scenario happens which has a naked flame or something in it. I will change the channel. And if Abbie is in the room, I change the channel very quickly."
Pritchard is urging people not to attempt the life hack themselves.
He said: "Within a blink, she was on fire. It went horrifically wrong.”
Watch: AJ Pritchard on I'm A Celebrity in 2020