PHIPPSBURG — A Winthrop state lawmaker who was badly burned in a brush fire accident this week made a public appearance Thursday mere hours after being discharged from a hospital.

State Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, appears at an event Thursday just hours after being discharged from the hospital. Hickman was seriously burned Tuesday while lighting a brush fire at his organic farm in Winthrop. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, was in good spirits, despite wearing gauze bandages on his hands and chest and having visible wounds on his face from severe burns he suffered Tuesday while lighting a fire at his organic farm.

“I feel great,” Hickman said. “I feel spiritually fulfilled.”

On Thursday, Hickman was on Malaga Island, the former site of an African-American and mixed-race settlement, to serve as emcee for Re: Past Malaga. About 40 people attended the event, which commemorated the eviction of the islanders in July 1912 and re-created the past with a communal meal made with ingredients that would have been available to the Malaga people.

Hickman, 50, who wore a long, flowing black robe to the Malaga event, made only a veiled reference to his injuries during his opening remarks. He recalled his response to being asked several months ago to emcee the event.

“The only way I’m going to miss this is if I’m dead,” he said to laughter from the audience.

Hickman said he was in good spirits because of the Malaga event and from the responses he’d received from friends and colleagues after the accident.

“The outpouring of love, support and encouragement has been pleasantly overwhelming,” he said.

He planned to return to his farm on Annabessacook Road in the evening.

On Tuesday, Hickman was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland after investigators say that he tried to light a brush pile on fire using gasoline, causing the gas vapors to explode. The accident left Hickman with second-degree burns on his torso, right arm and thighs. His husband, Jop Blom, has said that he’ll make a full recovery.

Hickman declined to discuss the accident while at the Malaga Island event. “It’s history,” he said. “We move forward from here.”

On Thursday evening, Blom and Hickman were planning to return to their home, according to Sarah Fuller, a close friend of theirs who is also a Winthrop town councilor. They live on Annabessacook Farm, their organic farm and bed-and-breakfast.

Dozens of people have volunteered to help on the farm while Hickman recovers, and more than a hundred have contributed to an online fundraiser for his business.

Hickman represents Winthrop, Readfield and part of Monmouth. He’s devoted much energy to fighting hunger in Maine, and after the accident, he received public messages of support from people across the political spectrum, including Gov. Paul LePage.

On the farm, Hickman plans to assess what tasks need to be completed and put together a sign-up list for volunteers, said Fuller, who also serves as chairwoman of the Winthrop Town Council. At this point in the season, they will need help watering, weeding and harvesting the farm’s produce.

Updates will be shared on the farm’s Facebook page, Fuller said. She also urged people to support Hickman by purchasing eggs, greens and other products from a stand that was built last year at Hickman’s farm on 192 Annabessacook Road.

Hickman and Blom did not respond to requests for an interview on Thursday. However, in a Facebook post on Wednesday evening, they reiterated their gratitude for many things.

“We are so blessed,” Blom wrote in the post. “Blessed that Craig’s injuries are not as bad as they could have been. Blessed that he is comfortable and in great spirits. Blessed by the expectation of a full recovery. Blessed by the outpouring of love, support, thoughts and prayers. Blessed to be uplifted by our community near and far. Blessed by the hope that he might return to Annabessacook Farm tomorrow.”

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