COOLIDGE, AZ — A 19-year-old man is in critical condition after fire officials say he poured gasoline onto a fire pit, sparking an explosion that caught him on fire.
The incident happened Saturday night in Coolidge, at a backyard birthday celebration.
"I was inside, we were eating cupcakes and then I heard a big bang," said Mark Ramirez, who was celebrating his 50th birthday.
Ramirez says his daughter's boyfriend is the one who poured gas onto the fire pit apparently in an effort to get the fire going. Ramirez says he found the victim on fire in the backyard and grabbed him to try and douse the flames.
"Just focused on the adrenaline, trying to get him saved," Ramirez said. "I just wanted to save his life."
Ramirez suffered severe burns to his hands. Three other people were also injured, but are expected to be okay.
Fire officials say the 19-year-old is in a medically-induced coma.
"It's the fumes that actually catch on fire, actually not the fuel, it's the fumes," said Coolidge Fire Department Chief Mark Dillon. "As the fire got bigger, it came back up into the gas can and there's fumes still trapped in the gas can and it exploded."
Dillon told ABC15 the 19-year-old suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns on roughly 75% of his body. He says this should serve as a reminder for everyone.
"Do not pour gasoline on an open fire," Dillon said. "Plain and simple."
A fundraiser has been set up to help the victims. If you wish to donate, you can do so here.