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Friday May 22nd, 2015 7:47PM

Chief: Lighter caused explosion, fire at gas pump

By Rob Moore Reporter
CLARKESVILLE - A cigarette lighter is being cited as the cause of a fire at the gas pump that burned a Clarkesville woman Wednesday afternoon.

Clarkesville Fire Chief Jerry Palmer identified the victim as 30-year-old Jessica Laura Dawkins of Clarkesville. Also injured was Austin Dillon Dawkins, 37, of Clarkesville.

"At this time it appears the fire started with Mr. Dawkins operating a cigarette lighter while pumping gas," Palmer said. "The lighter caused an initial vapor explosion which ignited the fuel fill area of the vehicle."

The incident at Royal Food Store, 183 Grant St., was reported at 2:11 p.m. Wednesday and occurred while Jessica and Austin Dawkins were refueling a Ford pickup truck.

"While fleeing the immediate area, Jessica Dawkins was injured when Mr. Dawkins removed the still-flowing fuel hose from the tank of his burning vehicle spaying her with burning fuel," Palmer said.

Patrons, along with staff from both Royal Food Store and nearby Clarkesville Motor Co., extinguished the fire.

Jessica Dawkins was flown from Pitts Park to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where she remained Thursday night.

Austin Dawkins was treated on the scene and currently faces no charges related to the incident, Palmer said.

Two other occupants of the vehicle, a toddler and an unidentified woman, escaped without injury, he said.
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