A Lewiston firefighter stamps out flames Saturday morning as other emergency personnel tend to a man severely burned while working on a SUV on Cottage Street in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — A Lewiston man died from injuries he sustained Saturday when he caught fire while working on his SUV, according to Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland.

A Lewiston police officer examines a vehicle Saturday on Cottage Street in Lewiston where a man was badly burned. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Lt. William Wallace of the Lewiston Fire Department said that around 11 a.m. he received a call that a man had caught fire at 16 Cottage St.

Wallace said that upon arriving, he found that Gary Labonte, 57, had been transferring gasoline from his vehicle into a gas can when there was an ignition that sparked a fire.

“(Labonte’s) clothes caught fire and were completely burned off,” Wallace said.

McCausland said that an electric spark from the pump he was using to drain the tank caused the gasoline to explode.

By the time firefighters arrived at the scene, Labonte was no longer on fire, Wallace said, though the fire had spread to some nearby grass.

According to McCausland, Labonte was standing next to four gas cans he was using to store the drained fuel when the explosion took place and engulfed him in fire.

Neighbors provided aid to Labonte, McCausland said, before he was taken to Central Maine Medical Center and transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Labonte’s brother, who Wallace declined to identify, attempted to put his brother out and received minor burns to his hands, Wallace added.

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A Lewiston firefighter hoses down the grass Saturday morning as other emergency personnel tend to a man severely burned while working on an SUV on Cottage Street in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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