Car fire burns woman over 90% of body

The victim was hospitalized after being found on fire near Business Loop 70
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:23 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 7, 2008

A woman was listed in critical condition Monday night after suffering burns from a car fire in a residential area near Business Loop 70 on Monday morning.

The victim was in the burn unit at University Hospital and Clinics with burns on 90 to 100 percent of her body. Officials had not released the victim’s name.

Police responded to what they thought was a house fire at 10:51 a.m. at 1515 Stone St., but instead found a woman engulfed in flames next to a burning late-1980s or early-1990s Jeep Cherokee Laredo.

“I saw a vehicle on fire with a female in flames standing 10 feet away from the car,” said Sean Moore, a Columbia Police officer who was first on the scene.

The driver’s-side door was open, which led Moore and other officials to believe the woman was in the car when it caught fire.

The Fire Marshal’s Division of the Columbia Fire Department and the Columbia Police Department Major Crimes Unit are investigating the cause of the fire.

Moore said he was answering a call about a stolen bicycle when a resident flagged him down. Following the smoke to 1515 Stone, Moore cut through back yards and called for medical and fire assistance. Moore said he found the victim standing next to the vehicle.

“I yelled for her to get on the ground, but she couldn’t hear me,” Moore said.

Using his coat to knock the victim to the ground, Moore instructed her to roll away from the burning vehicle.

After the woman was no longer on fire, Moore told her to concentrate on breathing. He could see that most of her clothes, including her shoes, had burned off.

While helping the victim, Moore also heard two small explosions, which he said he thought were the Jeep’s tires blowing out.

Neighbor Sue Martin heard screams and went outside to investigate.

“The windows started blowing out,” Martin said. “I thought it was going to blow up.”

None of the homes in the neighborhood was damaged .

“We run vehicle fires weekly,” said Capt. Steven Sapp, public information officer for the fire department. “What you find uncommon is that the victim is intimately involved with the fire.”

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