Woman lights car on fire at Daytona Beach gas station

Witnesses say woman poured gas on car, lit it on fire


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – People ran for their lives when a woman lit her car on fire at a busy gas station, nearly causing the place to explode, police said.

It happened at the BP gas station at 971 West International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach.

Eyewitnesses who couldn't believe what they were seeing. They said the woman pulled up to the pump, poured gas on her car, and then lit it on fire -- with her pets trapped inside.

"I think she was trying to kill us all," said Edna Sandrus, who was one of two clerks on duty. "All I know was I had to shut that valve off or this whole place was going to blow up."

It began when the woman paid $20 for gas, then stole a lighter. The view from store security cameras shows one clerk, Craig Walker, try to wrestle a lighter from the woman's hands.

The woman managed to grab another lighter from inside her car, lit the gas she had poured over her car, and then a ball of flames engulfed the car and shot as high as the pumps.

A stranger tackled the woman, covered her on the ground, and probably saved her life. Meanwhile, Walker ran away just in time.

One man saw what happened and ran to rescue those pets while others ran for their lives. The man at the pump next to her ran so fast, he ran out of his shoes to escape the pending explosion, said witnesses.

Police identified the woman as Alexandra Barnes of West Palm Beach and said she kept saying she was God. Even after being saved, witnesses said Barnes wasn't done risking other people's lives.

"The only thing she did say was her babies were in the car. So the boy from next door assumed that she had kids in the car, so he ran to the car with it on fire and there was dogs in there," said Sandrus.

After John Bracy saved her dogs, witnesses said she scooped them up and ran into the busy road, sat down in oncoming traffic and waited to get hit by cars.

Bracy's boss, Rafael Rivera, said Bracy is a hero.

"He's a little bit crazy but you know some people would stand there and watch and others would jump into action and that's exactly what he did and I'm proud of him," Rivera said.

Police took her away in handcuffs and she'll be mentally evaluated, but people who witnessed the ordeal are just happy nobody was hurt -- or worse.

"I never thought I would experience that working here," said Walker.

Both the woman's dogs were taken to the Humane Society. They were not injured.

The state fire marshal will determine if Barnes will be charged.