San Francisco Chronicle

Man believed to be homeless dies in fire

- By Rita Beamish Rita Beamish is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: rbeamish@sfchronicl­

A man believed to be homeless died after being engulfed in fire after drug use in a parking lot, Santa Rosa police said Sunday evening.

Firefighte­rs called to investigat­e a fire in the rear parking lot of a business on the 1200 block of Santa Rosa Avenue early Saturday quickly extinguish­ed the blaze, not realizing that the reports of a fire referred to a person burning, police said in a release.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said that surveillan­ce video from neighborin­g businesses showed the man “using a lighter to consume a narcotic, possibly fentanyl.” The man then slumped to the ground, appearing to fall asleep, but his clothes began to smolder and flames over his body erupted in minutes. “Unfortunat­ely, he was unable to extinguish the flames,” police said.

No foul play was suspected, and initial analysis from fire officials was that residue on his hands or clothing, possibly a chafing gel, was ignited by the lighter, the police report said.

The man’s identity was not known, but police said he appeared to be in his 40s or 50s and probably homeless.

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