GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The smoke could be seen from a mile away coming from the garage of a home on the 14 hundred block of Pine Avenue NW in Grand Rapids Tuesday evening.
Nick Hoffman lives with his grandmother, Janis Sukstas, at the home and was prepping the charcoal grill for dinner.
“When it’s nice like this we grill out a lot,” said Sukstas.
That grilling is typically done by her grandson who is in his 20’s.
A charcoal grill can take a while to get hot, so Sukstas said Hoffman started to mow the lawn to kill time.
“He thought he would get the charcoal going while he was cutting the back and must be he got some gas on his pants and when he went to light the charcoal, poof!” said Sukstas.
Battalion Chief Bart Perry with the Grand Rapids Fire Department said it was his understanding that Hoffman was attempting to light the fire with gasoline when the explosion happened.
“Sounds like he was somewhat disoriented after the fire flashed,” said Perry.
After the initial fire, Hoffman came running back into the house looking for help.
Perry said, “We always worry about respiratory burns when someone gets a flash fire in their face like that.”
While Hoffman got treatment on scene for his injuries, two propane tanks in the garage exploded.
Inside the garage were a number of bikes, a snow-blower and other things that kept the fire burning hot.
When the fire was out, it was covered in foam, and toppled to the ground.
Hoffman told his grandmother he was worried about the things that were lost in the fire.
“I said Nick, we can replace the bikes. We can’t replace you,” said his grandmother.
Despite burns to his face and leg, Hoffman is expected to make a full recovery.