A Westford man, whose clothes caught fire Monday night after he tested a lighter, remained hospitalized with serious burns, Otsego County deputies said Tuesday.

Samuel J. Atwood, 57, was in his mobile home at 1803 County Highway 34 and filled a Zippo lighter with lighter fluid, spilling some of the liquid on his clothes, deputies said in a media release. After filling the lighter, Atwood tried it and it worked, deputies said.

But the flame ignited his shirt and the fire spread to his shorts, deputies said. A neighbor heard Atwood screaming and called 911 at about 6:20 p.m. Monday.

The neighbor’s teenage children rushed to the scene and helped get Atwood out of his home and remove his burning clothing, the release said.

Inside the residence, Atwood’s shirt had been dropped onto a rug, which caught fire, but the blaze self-extinguished by the time firefighters arrived, the release said.

The Westford Fire Department and its First Responder Unit were dispatched and provided medical care. A Life Net of NY helicopter was dispatched from Sidney and arrived at the scene with paramedics, who stabilized Atwood, who was flown to the Clark Burn Treatment Center of the Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.  

Westford Fire Department Chief Ralph Ritton said about 15 firefighters and two emergency medical crews responded, provided first aid and determined there wasn’t a structural fire.

The investigation was conducted by the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office, Otsego County Office of Emergency Services and Westford Fire Department.




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