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Man Burned by Explosion, Fire Inside Car

April 08, 1985

A 54-year-old Santa Ana man suffered third-degree burns to his face and second-degree burns over the front of his body Sunday from a fire of suspicious origin inside his parked car, a Santa Ana Fire Department spokesman said.

Joe Schechter was "stable and comfortable" at UCI Medical Center's burn ward, where he was taken after being treated at his home by paramedics, hospital and Fire Department spokesmen said.

Schechter told firefighters that he was burned in an small explosion and fire that occurred shortly before 2:30 p.m. when he opened the door to his 1975 Oldsmobile, which was parked in the carport at his apartment, 3101 S. Bristol Ave., Fire Department Battalion Chief Jim Dalton said.

When firefighters arrived, Schechter was inside his home and the fire in the car had gone out, apparently from lack of oxygen after Schechter shut the car door, Dalton said.

Dalton said the fire appeared to be intentionally set.

"We found evidence of what appeared to be gasoline in the car carpeting," he said. Tests will be conducted on pieces of the carpet to determine whether gasoline was present, he said.

Damage to the car was estimated at about $1,000 and the fire remained under investigation late Sunday, Dalton said.

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