Teen Set on Fire From Cigarette Lighter in "Freak" Accident: Police

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A teenager is airlifted to a South Bay Hospital after being burned in what, police say, was a "freak accident" at the Concord BART Station. Bob Redell reports. (Published Thursday, Jan 16, 2014)

    A 15-year-old boy became engulfed in flames while helping a stranger with his car at a grocery store Thursday morning after the man lit a cigarette and sparked a fire on the teen’s gasoline-stained shirt.

    The "freak" accident was reported just before midnight Thursday at a Safeway near the Concord BART station, according to BART Police Lt. Steve Coontz. The boy was taken to a hospital early Thursday morning

    Police don't know how and why the teenager had met up with the man, or why he was helping him work on his car, but Coontz did say officers don't believe the two knew each other before. While the teen was helping the man, he spilled gasoline on his shirt, police said. When they were done with the car, the man gave the teen a ride to the BART station. During the ride, the man lit a cigarette.

    Apparently, the open flame from the lighter was strong enough to ignite the gasoline vapor on the teen's shirt, Coontz said.

    As they neared the BART station, the teen jumped out of the car and started stripping out of his clothes. The man took off, Coontz said, and likely will be hard to find because the teen never got his name or address.

    Meanwhile, the boy has burns to his arms, chest and hands. He was originally taken to a high school, where a helicopter picked him up and flew him to Valley Medical Center in San Jose, which has a special burn unit.

    BART police are not actively looking for the man, and Coontz said he's not sure at this time what crimes, if any, the man would have committed.