Oxnard man found burning near railroad tracks dies

Oxnard man found burning near railroad tracks dies

13 December 2007

published by www.venturacountystar.com

USA — A man who was burned over almost all of his body in a brush fire in Ventura Wednesday morning died in the Grossman Burn Center about 10 hours after the blaze, authorities said this morning.

Eddie Estrada, 55, of Oxnard, was pronounced dead at the burn center in Sherman Oaks about 8:25 p.m., said Craig Harvey, operations chief of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.

Medical examiners had not yet examined Estrada’s body this morning to determine the exact cause of his death.

Estrada was burned on more than 90 percent of his body in a brush fire next to the railroad tracks just south of the 2600 block of Palma Drive in Ventura Wednesday morning.

Firefighters found Estrada still in flames when they responded to a report of smoke in the area at 10:24 a.m., said Battalion Chief Luis Espinosa of the Ventura Fire Department.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames on Estrada and contained the small brush fire in the area next to the railroad tracks, Espinosa said.

Estrada was transferred to the Ventura County Medical Center, then flown to the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks for treatment.

Melissa Balding, who works at the Island Ink screen printing shop on Palma Drive, said she tried to help the man by spraying him with a fire extinguisher before firefighters arrived.

After she noticed smoke in the brush behind her business, Balding called 911, grabbed a fire extinguisher and hurried toward the burning shrubs.

When she arrived, she saw the man rolling back and forth on a slope next to the railroad tracks, calling for someone to help him as the clothes burned off his body, she said in a phone interview.

She sprayed him with the fire extinguisher, but it ran dry before she had a chance to finish squelching the flames.

“I just wish that fire extinguishers were as big as trucks,” Balding said. “I was panicking because he caught back on fire.”

The cause of the blaze was still under investigation Wednesday, though police believe it was likely accidental, said Sgt. Jack Richards, a spokesman for the Ventura Police Department.

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