Sean Ryan Romero, 22, caught fire behind the convenience store on Monday afternoon near the store's rear dumpster. Witnesses nearby, startled at the sight of a man completely covered in flames, immediately called 911 for help. Witnesses retrieved a fire extinguisher from inside the 7-Eleven store and doused the flames. However, Romero had already been extensively burned by that time.
Romero, of Orem, was airlifted to the University of Utah Hospital burn unit, where doctors said he received burns to approximately 90 percent of his body. The man died from his severe injuries at approximately 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The cause of the fire, and Romero's behavior at the time of the incident are still somewhat of a mystery. At least one witness said it seemed that Romero wasn't trying very hard to extinguish the flames.
Romero had a history of drug problems. Only a month ago, he was arrested on possession of heroin, marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges.
"I was so scared... I never saw something like that before," said Celia Rodrigues, who witnessed the disturbing site from her nearby office. "He was totally on fire. His hair was really burned."
Authorities are still looking into the cause of the fire, but they also agree that this incident is a bit unusual.
"It was weird. It was weird in every way," said Battalion Chief Tom Augustus of the Provo Fire and Rescue Department. "All we know is he was back by a dumpster."
Investigators are examining the remaining evidence but likely won't identify a definitive cause of the fire for a few weeks, officials said. Anyone with information in this case is encouraged to contact the Provo Police Department at (801) 852-6210.
- Man found on fire in Provo (Brian Carlson - 2/11/13)