Man dies after accidentally setting himself on fire - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Man dies after accidentally setting himself on fire

THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) -

By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

THOMAS COUNTY, GA (WALB) –A 75-year old Thomas County man died Christmas Eve when he accidentally set himself on fire.

Sheriff's deputies say Floyd Aldridge was burning trash in his yard when the accident happened.

We spoke with Aldridge's good friend and neighbor about the routine chore that turned deadly.

Floyd Aldridge walked into his backyard Friday to do something he'd done countless times before.

"He burns a little trash," explains his best friend Dennis Law. "He's always burning and nothing ever gets out of control but that day it happened to get out."

"Come this time of the year we're cleaning our yards because all the foliage is coming off and the easiest thing to do is pile it up and burn it," points out Lt. Steven Jones of the Thomas County Sheriff's Office.

But a sudden gust of wind caused the flames to shift in Aldridge's direction, setting his clothes on fire.

"It doesn't take but a moment with some fabrics and they will burn rather quickly," warns Jones.

"He evidently suffered, I know he did," says an upset Law. "But he tried to shed his clothes and he just couldn't get them off him."

Law says there's two reasons why Aldridge couldn't shed his burning clothes in time. One being that he had on layers of clothes to protect himself against the cold. The other is because he only had one arm.

"If it had been me or somebody else, we may have gotten out. But Floyd couldn't," says Law.

Some young children playing in the neighborhood on Christmas break first noticed something was terribly wrong.

"They spotted a man that was still laying there burning," Law tells us. "They went back to get the mother who threw a blanket on him. We asked if he had one arm and they said yes and we knew who it was."

Then guilt began settling in for Law, who says he's usually out with Aldridge during his burns.

"Just couldn't get to him. That's what made it so hard. We're pretty close friends," says an emotional Law.

And he says he'll miss his buddy, whose fate changed instantly with the direction of the wind.

Officials urge people never to burn items without seeking advice from an expert like your local forestry unit.

They say it's always a good idea to have a friend watching nearby, to keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy, and to never burn anything on a windy day.

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