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Man lights himself on fire in Target parking lot; suffers burns to half his body

A man suffered burns to about 50 percent of his body after he lit a jug full gasoline on fire.
A man suffered burns to about 50 percent of his body after he lit a jug full gasoline on fire.

A man suffered third-degree burns to over half of his body Wednesday night when he apparently tried to use a lighter to melt a plastic water jug that was full of gasoline.

Investigators still need to review surveillance footage of the incident in the Target parking lot on Sisk Road but preliminary information suggests the man was using a lighter in an effort to melt the mouth of the gallon jug into a funnel when it exploded into flames, said Dustin Bruley, supervisor of the Stanislaus Regional Fire Investigation Unit.

The man’s girlfriend told investigators the funnel was intended to make it easier to pour the gas into their vehicle, which had run out of gas. He was identified only as a man in his 30s.

The man and the vehicle next to his, a Lexus, caught fire.

“He ran from the car and several citizens assisted him to the ground and helped put out the fire that was on him,” Bruley said.

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Modesto Fire Battalion Chief Darin Jesberg said the entire front half of the man’s body was burned, from his face to his feet. “The fire melted his shoes,” he said.

He said medical personnel were most concerned about keeping the man’s airway from swelling shut.

The man was airlifted to the burn unit at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

A Target employee used a fire extinguisher to put out the car fire.

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