EAST FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – Police are investigating after a woman caught on fire at an Armstrong County gas station Monday morning.
The victim told police conflicting stories of what happened. She first said that she accidentally started the fire with a cigarette. She then said she was trying to burn a termination letter she had just gotten from her employer.
It was after she got that letter that 51-year-old Christine Mecca, a pharmacist from Ford City, came to the gas station outside the Shop ‘n Save in Kittanning.
She was pumping gas when a truck driver saw her run from her vehicle toward the parking lot engulfed in flames.
Her screams were heard by many working nearby.
“It sounded terrifying, like I don’t know, like I thought maybe she was either in labor, broke her leg and sound like she was in a lot of pain,” Crystal Hicks, who works nearby, said.
Photos from the scene show Mecca’s clothes still smoldering on the ground and a pool of gasoline around her vehicle.
She was taken to Armstrong Memorial Hospital and then transferred to UPMC Mercy’s burn unit where she is in critical condition.
Witnesses say she was alert on scene and asking for her purse and cell phone.
“I saw her hands shaking – that’s what I could see,” Tyler Burns said.
The district attorney will now determine whether this was intentional or an accident. Police say it’s a miracle the fire didn’t spread and the woman survived.
“She was very lucky that there were people standing there that were able to knock her to the ground, rip her clothes off her and beat the fire out,” East Franklin Police Sgt. William Evans said.
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