A man was burned when a carpet cleaning van caught fire at a Union 76 gas station in east Santa Rosa early Wednesday morning, a fire inspector said.
The victim and two other people appear to have been collecting fuel in unsafe plastic containers, Rincon Valley Fire Protection District Fire Inspector Cyndi Foreman said.
The convenience store at the gas station, located at state Highway 12 and Melita Road, was closed when the fire was reported around 3:50 a.m.
Customers could still purchase gas with a credit, debit or Union 76 card, but no card transactions were made at the time of the fire, Foreman said.
Firefighters found a 55-gallon plastic container containing a few gallons of gas in a field across the street from the gas station, and a 200- to 250-gallon plastic container inside the van, Foreman said.
Surveillance video showed one of three people associated with the van crossing the street with a gas container, Foreman said. All three appeared to be males, she said.
The injured man was spotted by a passerby walking on state Highway 12 -- also known as Sonoma Highway -- near the gas station, Foreman said.
He had suffered flash burns and was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Foreman said. The other two people have not been located, but no one was inside the burned van, Foreman said.
It appears the fire started with an explosion, Foreman said. Santa Rosa Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Basque said the blaze was extinguished in about 15 minutes.
The fire destroyed the van and burned one gas pump and a canopy above the fueling island, Foreman said. The convenience store is open, but the gas pump island has been red-tagged and there is no gas service, she said.
Basque said something ignited the van's gas tank or gas that was stored in the van, but the cause is still under investigation.
Bay City News contributed to this report.