2 burned in commercial vehicle fire in Peoria

PEORIA, Ariz. (FOX 10) - Firefighters say two people have suffered burns in a commercial vehicle fire in Peoria.

A veteran paving company worker remains in the hospital suffering from critical burns. A manager with Rose Paving Company says the 46-year-old man was filling cracks in the pavement at a Peoria parking lot when this happened. the worker's shirt caught on fire.

A FOX 10 viewer happened to be in the parking lot near Bell and 77th Ave and took a video of the fire.

"I got a phone call around 8 from my guys telling me the machine exploded on him," said Michael Simpson, superintendent of operations at Rose Paving. "I've got a long history with my guys. They're the most important part - not the equipment, not the job. It's them."

46-year-old Enrique Hernandez was standing next to the asphalt machine when his shirt caught fire. His coworker burned his hands while removing the fiery clothing. Hernandez was rushed to the hospital with critical injuries. The coworker's burners were minor.

"They're both very lucky," said Mike Selmer with the Peoria Fire Medical Department. "You can imagine how much material was in that machine and the oil burning as hot as it is - that could've been catastrophic, deadly."

Officials say the machine that went up in flames had boiling asphalt inside. When the asphalt is poured, it's about 400 degrees. The injured worker has more than 20 years of experience on the job.

"He knows these machines like the back of his hand," said Simpson.

Firefighters doused the asphalt machine with foam. The material continued to put off gas and smolder for hours. Fire officials say it appears something went wrong with the machine.

"In this particular case, a malfunction occurred," said Simpson. "[It] just goes to show you how dangerous this job really is."

The manager tells us he spoke with his injured employee over the phone and he said he was in a lot of pain but he's going to be OK.