Police find unidentified man mysteriously ablaze in carport 

Police officers responding to an apparent false alarm last week were shocked to find an empty bottle of cognac, a pack of cigarettes and a man burning alive on an abdominal workout chair in an empty carport.

An unidentified man was found consumed in flames in a carport of a 12-unit building at 899 Hillside Blvd. on the night of May 1. The man, who police could only identify as Hispanic, was sitting in a blue abdominal workout chair while his lap and head were ablaze. The man was still alive when he was found, but not conscious, Capt. Mike Edwards said.

After calling the Fire Department for help, police officers tried a number of measures to extinguish the flames. One officer unsuccessfully attempted to use the debris at the site to put out the flames. Edwards said the officers could not use a fire extinguisher because the chemicals would have killed him.

A second officer found a water faucet, but it was locked and he could not open it. Edwards then said a third officer told them to get out of his way and kicked the faucet free from the wall, releasing a stream of water onto the carport’s floor.

Police officers pulled the burning man under the water and extinguished the flames. The man was transported to St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco and died the next day.

Police found a pack of cigarettes and an empty bottle of Hennessy cognac near the man’s exercise chair. Police said that according to witnesses, the man was sitting in the chair intoxicated earlier that day. Witnesses could not recognize who he was or whether he was a resident of the apartment building, authorities said.

Police said they are not suspecting foul play.

"We’re surmising that he fell asleep and spilled alcohol on his lap, but the investigation is continuing," said Edwards, who pointed out that in his 30 years at the department he never before encountered a similar situation.

Police said the man could not be identified because his identification papers were scorched. The San Mateo County coroner picked up the remains Monday for identification.

The fire did not cause any damage to the carport of the building, which hasrecently been put up for sale for $2.7 million.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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