UNC professor burned by fire and explosion, suspect arrested
Dan Reichart finally got his ice cream bar.
Reichart, the UNC-Chapel Hill professor who was injured in the Davie Poplar fire and explosion Thursday, told multiple media outlets he had been on his way to get an ice cream bar when he came upon the tree fire.
He wasn't able to get his ice cream then but he got it on Saturday.
The nutrition team at UNC Hospitals delivered him a bouquet of ice cream bars as he recovers from the injuries he sustained from the explosion.
The ice cream bars were delivered with the message, “You earned this. Compliments of UNC Health Care.”
Eyewitness video on Thursday showed Reichart trying to put out a small fire at the base of the Davie Poplar, which is a historically significant tree on the UNC campus. While he was stomping at the blaze, the contents of a bookbag detonated. The explosion engulfed Reichart and the video showed him being knocked backward. He sustained abrasions and burns for which he has received treatment.
Reichart, who lives in Hillsborough, said his Boy Scout training kicked in when he saw the fire.
“I was an Eagle Scout growing up, so I had experience building fires, although it was getting kind of big, it didn’t seem too big to kick out or stomp or kick away from the tree,” Reichart said Friday. “But it accelerated. I thought it was just simple arson. I had no idea there was some kind of explosive device in there, or else I wouldn’t have approached it.”
UNC campus police identified the person they think was responsible for the fire and explosion as a former UNC student. Investigators said they had Joshua Daniel Edwards in custody on Friday. They took him to UNC Hospitals for a mental evaluation, according to police spokesman Randy Young.
Edwards could face arson and other charges, Young said.