Orange County

Burned UNC professor loses hair, keeps beard for cancer research

UNC professor Dan Reichart tries to extinguish a fire allegedly set by a man who was later arrested when a device explodes at the base of the Davie Poplar on the UNC campus Thursday afternoon, Nov. 2, 2017. Reichart is being treated for burns, and the suspect is in custody and being evaluated.
UNC professor Dan Reichart tries to extinguish a fire allegedly set by a man who was later arrested when a device explodes at the base of the Davie Poplar on the UNC campus Thursday afternoon, Nov. 2, 2017. Reichart is being treated for burns, and the suspect is in custody and being evaluated.

UNC professor Dan Reichart lost his hair and a lot of skin in last week’s explosion at the Davie Poplar on UNC’s campus.

“The fireball engulfed me,” he said.

Reichart was trying to put out a fire at the base of the centuries-old tree on the McCorkle Place quad. Joshua Daniel Edwards faces charged accusing him of lighting the fire and planting the device.

The flames burned away part of Reichart’s hair. The rest was later shaved off by a surgery preparation team.

But, a short beard survived and Reichart has no intention of shaving it tomorrow or the next day – or the next.

The professor is participating in No-Shave November.

“As you can tell from my post-surgery picture, I won’t be shaving this month,” Reichart wrote in a Facebook post. “I’ve thought about participating in “No-Shave November” for years, and now I have the perfect excuse.”

No-Shave November raises money for cancer research and treatment and educates people about preventative measures, Reichart wrote online.

Reichart and his wife, Lois Lanier, have asked for sponsors to “turn something pointless and senseless into something meaningful.”

Sponsorship funds which support Reichart’s unshaven whiskers this month will go to cancer research and education.

Surgeons initially told Reichart that 2 percent to 3 percent of his skin would have to be removed due to second-degree burns, he said, but during surgery, his doctors determined they had to remove 10 percent to 11 percent.

Reichart said skin on his ears, the top of his head and some facial skin was removed.

He added the backs of his fingers, hands and lower arms sustained scorched wounds.

Charitable donations may be made by clicking https://no-shave.org/member/reichart

Lanier and Reichart donated the first $100. The couple’s original goal of $1,000 was quickly surpassed and by Tuesday afternoon over $4,000 had been raised.

Reichart is an astronomy instructor. This fall, he was teaching approximately 250 on-campus students and about 50 online students.

He will continue to teach online courses this semester but his final 10 in-person lectures before the college’s winter break will be handled by other faculty members.

Reichart is expected to be back in the classroom come the spring.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks

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