man severely burned while pumping gas
October 19, 2004
HIALEAH, Fla. --A man who authorities
suspect was stealing gas suffered severe burns when a
300-gallon tank installed under the seats of his van exploded,
destroying two gas pumps and the vehicle.
The man was apparently using a stolen
credit card to buy the gas when the tank exploded, catching
him on fire, police said.
An unidentified eye witness said flames
covered the man as he ran from the gas station, but about
20 minutes after the blast relatives of a badly burned
Sweetwater man called 911 for help, authorities said.
The burn victim, whose name was not released, was airlifted
to Ryder Trauma Center, where he was listed in serious
"This person was attempting to fill
that gas tank and take it to who knows where and pump
gas from there. This is the worst case scenario,"
said Luis Fernandez, of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. "If
there were more people here at the time, we could have
had multiple fatalities, and it could have been catastrophic
for this area here."
A school next door to the gas station
was evacuated after the explosion, but there were no injuries.
A witness told police that the man swiped
a credit card through the machine at the pump, and there
was an explosion almost immediately after that.
The car he was driving was engulfed in
flame and charred. Two pumps and the roofing over the
island were destroyed.
Fernandez continued, "Firefighters
have seen this type of operation before. What they do
is steel a credit card, fill the gas tank up and sell
the gas at reduced prices in different communities. This
is a very dangerous operation."
According to police, the suspected thief
will face charges if he recovers from the accident.