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Explosions incinerate truck in Statesboro

Injuries unknown after truck catches fire in restaurant parking lot

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Posted: July 25, 2008 2:25 p.m.
Updated: August 9, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Explosions incinerate truck in Statesboro

Scene of truck fire

A Guyton man was injured Friday afternoon when something caught fire in the bed of his pickup.

            The flaming object, which investigators have not yet identified, caused some aerosol paint cans in the bed of the pickup to explode, said Statesboro Fire Lt. Chris Colson.

            John Pallitta, 45, Gamble Lane, Guyton, was driving on Fair Road heading north when the fire started around 1:20 p.m.

            Statesboro Herald copy editor Araina Reaves said she was driving with a friend on Fair Road when she noticed a small fire in the back of the white Ford F-150.  The truck pulled into the parking lot at China Super Buffet, then a small explosion rocked the vehicle, she said.

            Eyewitness Joseph Jacobs said he was pulling into El Sombrero when he heard and saw an explosion.

             "I saw the man  (Pallitta) jump out of the truck and go to the back to get some tools out," Jacobs said. "There was another explosion and it knocked him 10-15 feet out of the truck. He ran right back to the truck and I ran over to help him get away."

            Nan Watson was sitting in her office on Fair Road right next to the restaurant when she heard a loud noise.

            "I heard a 'pop' and then I heard a much louder one right after that," she said. "I came outside and saw the truck engulfed in flames. A man kept trying to get to the truck to get his tools out. It seemed like he must have burned his arms pretty bad."

            Neither Colson nor Statesboro Police Officer Eric Short were able to give details regarding the extent of Pallitta's injuries. A preliminary report by Statesboro Police  Advanced Patrol Officer Steve Gravely stated Pallitta suffered burns on his right arm and face.

            Bulloch County EMS responded to the scene and transported Pallitta to East Georgia Regional Medical Center before Statesboro Fire Department personnel arrived, Colson said.

             Pallitta was driving a truck with South Carolina plates, that had "EAC Air Conditioning" printed on the door, he said.

            Colson said police and fire department investigators had not yet determined what originally ignited the flames, but said the explosions were spray paint cans and were "nothing major," although witnesses said the second blast appeared to propel Pallita several feet from the truck.

            The truck bed and contents were destroyed, he said.

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