Andrew Dale says he feels transformed by an explosion in his Batemans Bay food truck at the weekend, saying the feeling of having escaped without serious injury has given him a new lease of life, despite him suffering burns.
"I haven't stopped smiling since it happened," he said.
"I have not stopped feeling happy since it happened. I can't explain it."
The popular Canberra identity has also promised to donate to charity any funds raised in his name, saying he was grateful friends had set up a GoFundMe page for him in the wake of the explosion, but he was the one who helped people, not the other way around.
"I'm grateful to the person who set it up, I'm grateful for the donations, but I will get more out of it by donating it to people who need it more," he said.
"I just feel this amazing vibe when I help someone."
The 57-year-old father-of-three opened The G Spot food truck at the Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club in 2001, the popular late-night staple now run by his daughter Laura.
He moved to the South Coast two years ago and opened another food truck, The Lost Thong, last December, more for his mental health than anything else.
Over the past 12 years, Mr Dale had been king-hit at a party trying to evict troublemakers, been held-up at gun-point at The G Spot and lost his mum to cancer.
Opening the food truck on the South Coast was just a way to do something that he could do without feeling stressed. If he felt good, he opened; if he didn't, the truck stay closed.
But then on Sunday morning, an explosion at the food truck at Batemans Bay while he was getting ready to open, changed everything. The truck erupted in flames, the explosion felt 400m away.
Mr Dale escaped with burns, was airlifted to a Sydney hospital and released just over 48 hours later. The whole experience has put everything else into perspective as he felt support from across the community.
"It's been absolutely overwhelming," he said.
"The amount of messages, I can't explain. The amount of offers of support, it's too hard to comprehend.
"The people I haven't spoken to for so long have come back into my life. It's just amazing.
"I've had a couple of bad things happen to me over the last dozen years or so that gave me PTSD and gave me anxiety.
"But this has changed me. I shouldn't be on solid ground, I should be in it. There's no reason or rhyme how I survived that."
Mr Dale said he had insurance for the food truck but he was not keen to return to the business.
Before opening the truck on Sunday, Mr Dale opened the flap of the counter "a foot ", something he never usually did, which probably helped to save him, with air allowed to be released. Even after he got out of the truck, he went back in to retrieve items.
"People were saying, 'Get out, get out Andrew' and I was going to get this out, that out. I don't know," he said.
"I didn't feel pain for minutes. I didn't feel a thing and eventually people sat me down. I don't know how many people were just pouring water on my continually. I must have 100-plus water poured on me."
Mr Dale will still require treatment for his burns in Sydney and Canberra.
Mr Dale is well-known for lending a hand when it's needed.
He delivered donations of everything from food to fuel to victims of the 2019-2020 bushfires and during the COVID lockdowns, helped to get fresh food to isolated families.
His mother Toni Coote (nee Dale) started The Carrington restaurant in Bungendore. She and her partner Tony Coote died of different illnesses in 2018.
A spiritual person, Mr Dale thinks they are both looking out for him.
"I just keep getting knocked to the canvas and something lifts me back up, it's ridiculous," he said.
NSW Fire and Rescue said a leaking gas cylinder might have caused the explosion.
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