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Orange County

Man, 27, Critically Burned at Barbecue

Tragedy: Authorities say the injuries occurred to about 80% of his body as the Lake Forest resident tried to boost the flames by spraying alcohol on the coals.

June 17, 2002|JEFF GOTTLIEB | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A man apparently barbecuing at a Father's Day celebration was in critical condition Sunday after he squirted alcohol on the grill, which exploded into a fireball, authorities said.

The 27-year-old Lake Forest man, whose name was not released, suffered second- and third-degree burns to about 80% of his body.

Capt. Stephen Miller of the Orange County Fire Authority said the man was barbecuing on a small patio outside his ground-floor apartment, with small children and the man's wife present.

He became impatient that the coals were not heating up quickly enough, so he used the alcohol to help it along.

Miller surmised that as the man squirted the alcohol on the fire, the flame traveled up the stream into the container, and blew up.

The Fire Authority received the call at 2:54 p.m.

The man was flown by helicopter ambulance to the burn unit at the UCI Medical Center in Orange, arriving about 3:30 p.m.

No one else was hurt, Miller said.

The building suffered about $100 worth of damage.

The fire captain said it is not uncommon for people to pour a flammable liquid, such as lighter fluid or gasoline, on a barbecue to get the fire going.

"Unfortunately, this is what results," Miller said.

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