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Photographer and model severely burned in Miami after explosion during shoot

Officials said a photographer and a model have been hospitalized with burns after a photo shoot at a South Florida salvage yard went horribly wrong.

The explosion occurred at 2731 N.W. 19th St., in Fort Lauderdale, just before noon Tuesday.

According to Fort Lauderdale Police, photographer Helmut Montoya was taking pictures of the model when the explosion occurred. "They paid the junkyard to make a film they shot at a canopy," said witness Antwan Jones. "I heard a bang. I heard a bang and the screaming, but like he said, it wasn't no regular screaming."

Montoya's wife, Stacey, said her husband is lucky to be alive. "His face is burned pretty bad," she said. "It's hard to tell because he has a lot of tubes and bandages. Apparently, his knee and his hand is bandaged, so I just hope that that's gonna be all right because it's his right hand."

Montoya was believed to be using a vehicle that was inoperable and using candles as a backdrop for the photo shoot.

Police suspect gas fumes were ignited by the candles. "This was more of an explosion, than an actual burn," said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Timothy Heiser. "When Fire Rescue crews arrived, the majority of the fire was already out, but it appears there was some sort type of explosion that self extinguished for the most part."

Stacey said her husband ran to save the woman, risking his own life. "I'm extremely grateful that he's alive," she said as she held back tears. "Of course, that is exactly what he would do, to rush in and save someone."

Those inside the junkyard said the two had permission to be on the property.

Both were transported to Broward Health Medical Center and then transferred to the burn unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital..

Firefighters said the woman who was inside the car had to be doused with water to cool her down. She suffered severe burns.

The identity and condition of the woman has not been released. It is unknown if she was in fact the model or just a member of the crew.

As Montoya continues to recover, Stacey simply hopes he will one day be able to pick up his camera again and continue to pursue his dreams. "I do think that if it weren't for the fact that he's got an angel on his shoulder, it would've been a lot worse for him," she said.

Both the Fort Lauderdale Police and Fire Marshal are investigating.

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