The severe burning of a teenager at a Shoreview convenience store’s gasoline pump apparently was not accidental, according to the fire chief.
Gas-fed flames engulfed the 17-year-old girl Tuesday morning at the Quik Stop at the corner of Lexington and Hamline avenues, and a bystander’s quick actions gave the teen some chance of surviving her severe burns, authorities said.
The bystander used an extinguisher to douse the flames on the girl after she fled into the store from the pumping station, said Fire Chief Tim Boehlke.
“It appears this was not accidental,” Boehlke wrote in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon. Asked whether the girl meant to harm herself, he replied, “I wouldn’t be able to dispute” that interpretation.
Boehlke said no one else was with the teen, and the pumps showed no sign of malfunctioning.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the teen was being treated for life-threatening injuries at Regions Hospital, said the chief, who declined to disclose her identity.
Emergency dispatch audio revealed that the girl was described as alternately conscious or semiconscious after suffering burns to her arms and back, some of them third-degree.
The flames were first spotted shortly after 6 a.m., according to emergency dispatch audio.
The girl was at one of the pumping stations with her vehicle when the fire began, Boehlke said. He said investigators were working to determine how the blaze ignited.
The bystander also extinguished the flames near the pumps before the first fire crew arrived, the chief said.
Boehlke said his department appreciates what this good Samaritan did, but “we have not been able to identify the bystander who assisted.”
“I would say it’s very rare” to have gasoline catch fire at a retail pump, Boehlke added. “We probably go out more on spills at the gas pumps that haven’t ignited.”
The store was back in business later in the morning despite its interior needing ventilation, according to the dispatch audio.