Glen Burnie man burned siphoning gas with vacuum

Blast occurred as he tried to kill engine of locked car

June 18, 2005|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

An elderly Glen Burnie man, who locked himself out of a running car, was badly burned Thursday morning when he tried to kill the car's engine by siphoning out gas with a vacuum cleaner, authorities said Friday.

The 82-year-old man, whose name was not released, was injured when the vacuum cleaner exploded, said Anne Arundel County firefighters who were called to the man's house in the 200 block of Benmere Drive about 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

He was listed in fair condition -- with burns to 20 percent of his body -- at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center yesterday.

Fire officials said the man came home from the grocery store Wednesday night and locked his keys in his car. He left the vehicle running in his driveway overnight.

When he awoke the next morning, the car was still running, so he decided to use the vacuum cleaner to empty the gas tank, authorities said.

The combination of the vacuum's hot motor and gas vapors most likely caused it to explode, said Lt. Russ Davies, a fire department spokesman.

"It is not a safe practice to get fuel or remove fuel from the car while the car is running," Davies said, adding that the accident could have been worse if the car's gas tank had ignited.

Neighbors said they were upset by the accident.

"He's a nice guy, a good neighbor, and it's a tragedy for everyone around here who knows him," said John Henson.

Henson said people should not be too quick to ridicule his neighbor.

"It's easy to play Monday morning quarterback," he said.

Sun staff writer William Wan contributed to this article.

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