Police: Man lit himself, car on fire while stealing gasoline

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -A man's criminal attempt to fill up a can of gas as he smoked a cigarette went up in flames Sunday morning, according to police.

Portland police said 62-year-old Harry Suniville lit himself and his car on fire after he tried to steal gas from another driver's truck.

From across the street, bystanders caught it all on camera.

Jim Owens, who works near the scene of the crime at Southwest 11th Avenue and Columbia Street, didn't see the alleged crime, but he did watch the aftermath.

"Just that one little flame under the tire, I saw out of the corner of my eye that something was wrong there," Owens said.

"Next thing you know, there was 10 feet of flames, and he was in the car and I got really worried and I knew I had to save him," he said.

Despite Owens' efforts to save Suniville, and Suniville's own efforts to get away, he burned his socks, pants, eyebrows and hair.

He was treated at the scene and released by paramedics, then arrested on charges of criminal mischief in the second degree, reckless burning and theft in the third degree.

"As you're walking up you hear your truck was on fire and you're like well, that's that," driver Timothy Hardin said.

Timothy Hardin's truck was parked right next to Suniville's when it caught fire. Officers learned that Suniville had stolen a partially-filled gas can from Hardin's truck

"It's just Portland. There's a lot of car crime," Hardin said.

The back of Hardin's blue truck is now a bubbled shade of black, and he won't be driving it anytime soon. But, Hardin said, he's looking for the silver lining.

"I was just glad that nobody got hurt and that the guy who did it got caught," he said.