ST. PETERS, MO (KPLR) - The unofficial start to the summer comes with a tragic reminder for a St. Peters man while grilling out on Memorial Day.
"Unfortunately, a little too much lighter fluid was put on the fire and it flashed back and unfortunately burned our victim," said Captain Steve Roeper with Central County Fire & Rescue.
Roeper said the man suffered second degree burns to his face, arm, chest and leg.
"This is all I see, a shredded shirt," said Renee Jones who lives across from the man on Oak Street in Westwood Estates.
Jones who has known the family for several years said that she wasn't at her home when help arrived but did go to the family's backyard after the accident and picked up a wet black shredded t-shirt.
It's the same t-shirt that Roeper said the man was wearing when he caught fire while his daughter tried to hose him down with a garden hose.
"It's very scary to me," Jones continued, "they're second family to me and it's just crazy."
Jones said she was invited to the family's holiday get together but is shocked at how quickly things took a turn for the worst.
"When he was trying to start the fire, the fire-starting stuff like came up and exploded all over him," she said.
Roeper said that the late afternoon call was one of the most serious fire related calls the department had received Monday.
He said the man was using briquettes which require some patience to catch fire.
"The tendency is to put more lighter fluid on it when it's burning and unfortunately it can flash back and get victims," he said.
Roeper said that while it may seem like common sense, taking precautionary steps and knowing how to start a grill could save yours and the lives of others around you.
"It's best, once you start the fire to let the fire take care of itself," he explained, "let it get going and then put your meat in instead of applying more and more fluid to get the fire going faster."
Roeper said it has been a busier year for the department because people are not being cautious when comes to fire safety around their house.
The victim was transported to Mercy Burn Center with no information on his current condition.