Colton man severely burned after mistake sparks house fire

COLTON, Calif. (KABC) -- A Colton man suffered severe third-degree burns on 50 to 85 percent of his body after his home exploded in a fireball due to a mistake, officials said.

Firefighters and first responders said when they arrived on scene Thursday night, they saw flames erupting from every window and door of the house, which is located on the 800 block of Rancho Avenue.

"Our preliminary reports from police officers are stating that the homeowner was purging his gas lines and then decided to light a cigarette at that time," Colton Fire Department Capt. David Santos said. "Unfortunately, that's possibly the cause of the explosion."

Neighbor Paul Brecht, who dialed 911, saw the homeowner trapped behind a locked fence.

"He was trying to get a ladder so he could climb over his fence because he had a chain locked," Brecht described.

He said the man found a pair of bolt cutters in order to cut the gate open, but he collapsed. A police officer was able to unlock the gate and help the man onto the outside curb.

No one else was in the home. However, the victim's pit bull did not survive the fire. The man was not identified. He was described as a man in his 40s. Fire officials said 90 percent of the man's home was destroyed in the blaze.

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