It was supposed to be a delightfully relaxing, candle-lit bubble bath.
But when 19-year-old Ayla Good hopped into the tub with her boyfriend Will, it was the catalyst for a terrifying freak accident which they only survived thanks to her beloved pet tabby cat, Winter.
Brisbane photographer Ayla tells New Idea: ‘We thought it would be nice. I definitely didn’t think I was doing anything dangerous!’
The drama, which took place on June 20, began when Ayla decided to add to the ambience of the occasion by popping two tea light candles by the sink.
‘It’s nice to have a bit of dimmed light in the bathroom when you are having a bath, instead of that blinding bathroom light,’ she says.
The safety-conscious teenager put the toothbrushes, toothpaste and a hairbrush that were around the sink in the cupboard underneath, so they wouldn’t be a fire hazard.
‘Will has probably 10 deodorants under there, so I guess when I put the things away it jammed one of the cans horizontally and gas had just been continuously spraying out.
‘The water was running the whole time so we didn’t hear anything. We didn’t smell anything either.
‘I got into the bath and Will had his arms wrapped around me. We were relaxing, saying how nice it was to have a couple of candles lit.
‘The next thing I know, my cat Winter is meowing persistently.’
Ayla has had the one-year-old tabby cat since she was seven weeks old.
‘She’s my baby. She always wants to be with her mum. She loves being around me.
‘I thought she was just doing her normal “let me in I want a part of this” and she was going to stop.
‘I ignored her for no longer than a minute because I can’t ignore my baby when she’s crying. I was a little bit annoyed I’d had to leave my nice hot bath, but I got up, chucked a towel around myself so I wouldn’t get water all over the house.
No sooner had I opened the door when there was a super loud whooshing sound, a big flash and a huge burst of flames.’
The force of the huge explosion destroyed the bathroom ceiling and even bent some metal bars, but luckily the ferocious fire extinguished itself almost immediately.
Ayla ran out of the bathroom screaming and collapsed in the lounge room in shock. She didn’t realise she was seriously injured with second degree burns covering both her legs.
Thankfully, Will had been protected from the flames by a glass screen and was able to get out completely unscathed.
‘By the time he jumped up the flames had already gone,’ explains Ayla.
Miraculously, Winter the cat escaped with singed fur. Sadly, her owner wasn’t so lucky.
‘I was in absolute agony,’ says Ayla, describing how she sat in a neighbour’s bath with cold water running over her legs. ‘My body was just going into shock. I went from shrieking in pain to feeling cold and wanting to go asleep.
‘I was nauseous, feeling like I was going to throw up, and I’d have seizures where my legs would shake uncontrollably.’
Ayla was rushed to the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital by ambulance and treated for burns. She was kept in overnight and is still waiting to hear if she will need skin grafts.
Investigators told Ayla a myriad of unusual conditions combined to create the ‘perfect storm’ for an explosion.
‘The police said it was a one in a million chance of it happening. A deodorant can had been leaking and spraying the whole time. The light was turned off and the light is also our fan, so the gas was shut in there with no air movement. That had mixed with the flame and when I opened the door that’s given it enough oxygen to create an explosion.
‘Firefighters have never seen this happen in 28 years, and they said it would be almost impossible to recreate.’
Ayla – who only began renting the apartment with Will two months ago – has been left with horrendous nightmares at the prospect at what could have been, but there’s an unlikely hero in the whole saga.
‘Winter saved our lives,’ Ayla says.
‘We were only in the bath for 10 minutes. Imagine if we were in there for another 20 minutes and how much more gas would have leaked out.
‘We could have been stuck in there with flames covering the door and burnt to death. The explosion could have been so big we just didn’t make it out.
‘Looking back now, Winter wasn’t meowing because she wanted to come in. She was meowing because she could smell something was definitely wrong. I believe she saved us.’