SHOREVIEW, Minn. - Authorities in a Twin Cities suburb say a bystander came to the rescue of a teenage girl who apparently caught on fire near a gasoline pump.
Shoreview Fire Chief Tim Boehlke says the 17-year-old was on fire as she ran into the Quik Stop store at 5910 Lexington Ave. N. in Shoreview around 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. The bystander, 78-year-old Richard Lazarchic, patted out a smoldering fire on the victim before spraying a burning display rack and running outside to extinguish a fire by the gas pumps.
Boehlke said at this point they don't believe this was an accident or an equipment malfunction of the gas pumps.
Lazarchic says he was just happened to be in town for a holiday party and was staying at his condo across the street from the Qwik Stop when the incident occurred. He walked in to buy a paper and the clerk, who was on the phone, asked him if he knew how to use a fire extinguisher. "Yeah, I think I can do that," he recalled saying as he grabbed the extinguisher and pulled the pin. He looked down and saw a woman laying on the ground whose clothes were smoldering, then quickly patted the fire out. He recalls her apologizing, and not complaining about pain.
"She kept saying 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry,' he shared. "I didn't realize how badly she'd been burned."
The woman was taken to the hospital with what are described as life-threatening injuries. A spokesperson for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office says she is in stable condition.
After patting out the fire on the victim Lazarchic sprayed a display rack nearby that was also burning, then noticed a larger fire outside near the fuel pumps. something burning. He ran outside, saw liquid on the ground and a fire approximately two feet by one foot, which he quickly put out.
Lazarchic doesn't know how the victim started on fire, but says the incident does underline one thing: Everyone should know how to operate a fire extinguisher. "All you gotta do is pull the pin and squeeze the trigger," he insisted.