UPDATED: May 20, 2014 1:48 p.m.
LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — A man was seriously burned after he caught on fire outside a convenience store in Northeast Washington on Tuesday morning, authorities said.
The man caught on fire outside Thomas & Sons Market, located in the 3400 block of Benning Road NE, just after 10:15 a.m. while attempting to light a cigarette, according to store owner Jae Chung.
A D.C. police officer who was at the store when the man caught on fire quickly rushed over, grabbed the man and tackled him to extinguish the flames, Chung said.
D.C. Fire and Rescue arrived at the scene about 10 minutes later and the man was transported by a Medevac helicopter to a local hospital. Authorities say he is in critical condition after suffering severe injuries to his upper extremities.
Chung said he was in his office inside the store when he heard a commotion outside, but witnesses told him that the man was lighting a cigarette when he caught on fire.
Chung said he then reviewed footage from an exterior security camera that showed the man sitting outside the store, appearing to light a cigarette when smoke started coming out of his shirt.
“It showed the gentleman turning around toward the camera, and that’s when I saw the flames just bursting out of his body,” Chung said. “At point the police officer rushed over to him, grabbed his body and just slammed and rolled him into the parking lot and put the fire out.
“I think the gentleman was very lucky that the police officer was there.”
Chung said the man is in his 70s and frequents the store often.
“The police officer who tended to the victim, I think, is a hero. He was at the right place at the right time. If it wasn’t for him, [the man] might have passed away,” Chung said.