A 27-year-old Oxnard man was burned by a ball of fire Thursday when fumes from lacquer thinner he was using came in contact with a water heater's pilot light and sparked an explosion, authorities said.
James Foxx suffered burns over 60% of his body during the 4 p.m. accident at a house in the 100 block of South F Street, Oxnard Fire Battalion Chief Mike O'Malia said.
Foxx was in critical condition Thursday night at Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks, where he was being treated for third-degree burns on his face, arms, legs and abdomen, authorities said.
Twenty-four firefighters contained the fire in about 20 minutes, O'Malia said. Flames gutted the attic and destroyed the roof, causing more than $60,000 in damage, authorities said.
The fire forced the brief evacuation of about half a dozen residents from homes on both sides of the burning house.
Foxx was helping homeowner Ron Burke refurbish the single-story house so it could be rented. Burke was at the location when the fire broke out but was not injured, O'Malia said.
Foxx was using the solvent to clean a kitchen floor when the explosion occurred, O'Malia said. After catching fire, Foxx dived through a small kitchen window on the side of the house. He was found by neighbors who used a garden hose to extinguish him, police and fire officials said.
An officer and several neighbors tried to comfort Foxx until an ambulance arrived. Foxx was also bleeding from cuts he received from his jump, officials said.
"Small explosions in the residence were causing glass fragments to start flying toward the officers and the victim," said Oxnard Police Officer Andrew Salinas, who saw the fire and radioed for help.
O'Malia said pockets of vapors caused the several smaller explosions, which blew out the remaining parts of the broken kitchen window.