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Worker in serious condition after fire

Published Mar. 7, 1996|Updated Sep. 15, 2005

A 34-year-old man was burned Wednesday when a cigarette he threw onto a floor covered with a flammable liquid cleaner ignited a flash fire.

Ronald Scites, whose address was unavailable, was taken by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital's burn unit. He was in serious condition Wednesday night.

Clearwater Deputy Fire Chief Dave Kinsey said Scites had second- and third-degree burns on a little less than half his body.

Scites and another man, who both work for a temporary labor pool, were hired to clean the floor in a vacant unit at 1771 Coachman Plaza Drive. The men were spreading a cleaning solvent on the floor about 11:15 a.m.

He said the solvent used is very flammable and vaporizes quickly, creating fumes that are heavier than air.

"The material used for cleaning is not recommended for that use," Kinsey said. "It is extremely hazardous when used that way. It's worse than using gasoline."

Scites was smoking while working and threw a cigarette on the floor, he said. Scites was engulfed in flames from the flash fire that erupted from the discarded cigarette.

Bystanders and firefighters extinguished the blaze, which caused little damage to the building. Kinsey estimated the damage at $1,000.

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