A discarded cigarette is believed to have started a fire Wednesday evening in the 1300 block of Ashley Road where a 75-year-old man received burns to about 45 percent of his body, said Ramona Fire Department/Cal Fire.
The loud boom that neighbors reported hearing was probably caused by the fire spreading and overheating a CO2 cartridge for an air gun, causing the cartridge to blow up, said Capt. Don Davis. The air gun was on the back covered deck where the man was sitting in a chair, he said.
The call that the fire department received at 6:18 p.m. was that there was an explosion, according to the fire captain.
Davis said it appeared the man may have tossed the cigarette into a trash can and fallen asleep. The material on the chair then probably caught fire, he said.
Although the chair was under an electrical panel, Davis said, “The fire wasn’t electrical in nature.”
According to Davis, the man’s wife heard the wind chimes on the patio, went outside and saw the chair on fire and her husband, who was reported to have limited mobility, crawling down the steps toward the ground. He said she also heard a pop on the electrical panel.
The wife and neighbors used hoses and were able to extinguish the fire by the time the fire department arrived, said emergency responders, who found the man laying on the grass.
In treating the victim, Davis said, “Our main concern was to cool the burn down.” He estimated that roughly 3 percent of the burns were third degree.
The man was transported by ambulance to Station 80 where he was airlifted to University of California San Diego Burn Center. Davis said he was reported to be in stable condition Wednesday night.
Damage to the exterior of the house and contents were estimated at $60,000, said Davis.
The man was transported by ambulance to Station 80 where he was then airlifted to the medical center. The San Diego County Sheriff's department said it would send out its bomb arson unit for precautionary measures.