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Report: Man badly burned when 2 semis catch fire

Tractor-trailers catch fire in yard on Dahlia Road; 1 person critical

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man was critically injured Tuesday morning when at least two tractor-trailers caught fire at a business in Jacksonville's Paxon area, causing an explosion, authorities said.

According to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report, officers responded about 8:30 a.m. to Dahila Road, west of Edgewood Avenue North, after a man said he had tried to commit suicide by sleeping in the cab of the truck with a tank of propane going off. 

The truck caught fire and a nearby semitruck also began to burn, police said.

Billie Francis, who works at a nearby business, said she ran outside to find a plume of smoke after she heard an explosion.

"Oh it was a major, major explosion-type feeling. We were in the back office. It sounded and felt like the ceiling was going to fall in on us. The walls were going to collapse," Francis said. "Just a few seconds later, fire trucks and ambulances and police were all over the place."

The police report said an employee at the business where the explosion happened told police that when she walked out, she saw an ex-employee standing nearby, holding a cigarette. She asked him to walk over to her, and she said that he told her he had just tried to kill himself with a tank of propane, police said.

He later told medical staff, "I made a big ooops. I should of went up with the truck," the report said. Sources told News4Jax the man was badly burned.

"One of the ladies that owned one of them, she pulled up when I was speaking to one of the officers out front. And he asked her who she was, and she said, 'It's my truck that blew up,'" Francis said. "The whole thing is very sad."

The fire was put out in about 20 minutes, firefighters said.

The man, who News4Jax has chosen not to name, was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, police said.

"I do hope the man is OK," Francis said.

The state fire marshal's office was called to investigate. 

News4Jax looked into the man's background, learning that he has been detained for mental health evaluation and treatment as a result of the incident and that he had recently been evicted from his home.