A St. Francisville man was severely burned and a 7,000-square-foot building was incinerated when the man’s tractor struck a large gasoline tank Thursday morning on Pittman Road, West Feliciana firefighters said.
After Robert Graham accidentally backed his tractor into a gas tank at 10 a.m., he tried to stem the leaking gasoline with a pipe wrench when the leaking gas caught fire for reasons not yet clear. The flames severely burned his upper body, said Fire Chief James Wood, of Fire Protection District No. 1 in West Feliciana Parish.
Thirteen firefighters battled the blaze for more than five hours, including three firefighters from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. One firefighter was taken away by emergency medical services personnel to West Feliciana Parish Hospital after he developed heat exhaustion and muscle cramps, Wood said. Several other firefighters also had muscle cramps.
The damage to the building, which held tractors and farm equipment, was estimated at $650,000, Wood said.
Temperatures already were hot before the blaze — the outside temperature was 88 degrees with 90 percent humidity.
Because the fire technically occurred just over the border into Mississippi, the case was later referred to local fire officials.