The 66-year-old male driver of the vehicle escaped the vehicle safely but suffered first- and second-degree burns on his hands and legs, officials said.
The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service said that officials responded to a vehicle fire at a Trader Joe’s parking lot in Rockville on Thursday afternoon. Photos and videos posted by fire Chief Spokesperson Pete Piringer showed the vehicle covered in flames and surrounded by smoke.
“He stated that he had just finished grocery shopping,” Piringer told Newsweek. “Upon entering his 2000 Toyota Camry to leave the parking lot, he filled his hands with a copious amount of hand sanitizer and while working the sanitizer into his hands, embers fell from the cigarette in his mouth, igniting the sanitizer and then his clothing.”
(5/13 ~530p) Rockville Pike, Federal Plaza shopping Center, vehicle fire; Cause, Driver using hand sanitizer & smoking a cigarette, which is a bad combo in unventilated area like a car; total loss; @MCFRS_EMIHS treated & transported 1 adult w/ minor burns, NLT https://t.co/eJEMD9ODwR pic.twitter.com/nD7i7pQ5Mc
— Pete Piringer (@mcfrsPIO) May 13, 2021
Piringer told the outlet that the vehicle was a total loss after the blaze.
“Using hand sanitizer [and] smoking a cigarette … is a bad combo in an unventilated area like a car,” he separately wrote on Twitter.
In the past year, a number of Americans have purchased hand sanitizer due to federal guidance around the COVID-19 pandemic.