Barbara Blake, Asheville Citizen-Times
ASHEVILLE -- A Leicester man was in critical condition Saturday at the Baptist Medical Center burn unit in Winston-Salem after his vehicle struck a gas pump and erupted in flames. He was taken to Mission Hospital and then flown to the burn center.
Asheville police said Anthony Severino, 38, was driving a 2011 Chevrolet Aveo south on New Leicester Highway about 8:45 a.m. Saturday when his car left the road and collided with a gas pump at the Hot Spot at 103 New Leicester Highway.
"At this point it is unknown why he swerved off the road and into the parking lot, but he collided with a gas pump, knocking it off its foundation," Sgt. Scott Lunsford said.
"That pump hit another pump and another vehicle, a white van which also caught fire, which was occupied by a passenger who got out and wasn't injured."
Lunsford said he saw a video clip of the collision and that the fire around the Chevy "was almost instantaneous."
"The staff at the Hot Spot, with quick thinking, shut off the gas flow from the pumps, which prevented the fire from spreading or it becoming a more serious situation," he said.
Lunsford said first responders arrived within three to four minutes and removed the victim from the burning vehicle. "Based on what I've been told and looking at the videotape, they were there pretty quickly," he said.
Ernie Rice, Hot Spot manager, said he didn't know how long the pumps would be inoperable, and that the convenience store is continuing to operate.
In response to Lunsford's comments about the quick thinking of the staff, he said, "We have emergency procedures for that kind of stuff, and it worked."