MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A Mobile veteran marks six months since a serious injury at his home. Army National Guard Veteran Fred James fell into a fire pit and nearly died. Fred James has come a long way from February when he said he tripped while adjusting his fire pit and landed on the coals.

“Quickly ignited, I was screaming, I couldn’t get out and I was screaming, “I can’t get out I can’t get out,'” said James. He recalled those seconds in the fire pit felt like an eternity and a near-death experience.

“They tell you hell is a horrible place in Sunday school, I felt like I was in hell,” said James. He said he pulled bricks out of the fire pit wall and went inside. His wife rushed him to Springhill Medical Center. Then, he was taken by ambulance to the USA burn ward and despite half a million dollars in medical bills, he’s happy to be alive.

“I’m so much more aware and thankful I have a life and I thank the staff at USA burn center,” said James. It’s a sentiment shared by his wife Paula, who’s been working hard on his recovery at home.

Thank God he’s alive that he made it,” said Paula James. Fred James said he felt the devil pulling at him and that God saved him, the whole experience taught him a new respect for fire.

“If they have a fire pit in the backyard or something in the backyard burning with kids in the back it could very easily happen to someone else,” said James. Immediately after the accident, Paula and James filled in the fire pit, never to use it again.