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Cookout Burn Victim Critical

Safety: Lake Forest man suffers injuries over 70% of his body after alcohol ignites from barbecue.

June 18, 2002|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 27-year-old Lake Forest man badly burned in a Father's Day barbecue accident remained in critical condition late Monday, authorities said.

The man, whose name has not been released, suffered second- and third-degree burns to about 70% of his body. He was being treated at the burn unit of UCI Medical Center in Orange.

Capt. Stephen Miller of the Orange County Fire Authority said the men squirted denatured alcohol over charcoal to accelerate the fire. The flame traveled up the stream of liquid and blew up the container, resulting in a flash fire, he said.

The incident happened Sunday afternoon outside the man's ground-floor apartment on Rimhurst Drive with young children and the man's wife present. No one else was injured. The apartment was slightly damaged.

"Unfortunately, this type of accident is not uncommon," Miller said. "It's very tragic."

Miller pointed out the dangerof using inappropriate materials on a charcoal fire. "Once you've lighted charcoal briquettes, you don't use any type of accelerants to get the fire going faster," he said. "If you're using materials like gasoline or alcohol, the vapors themselves are flammable. They don't even have to touch anything to light."

As people begin to use their grills more frequently, Miller said, it is important "to be patient and let the charcoal get to the temperature it needs to over time. You want to be careful to keep children away from the grill. Kids are fast, and if they fall into the grill, charcoal can come in contact with their clothes quickly."

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