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Man catches fire in NYC home, runs for help covered in flames

NEW YORK -- It was a dramatic scene on the streets of Borough Park, Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon, as a man caught fire and ran for help covered in flames.

Only WCBS cameras have video from inside the building where the fire broke out around 1:40 p.m. Tuesday.

As CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported, surveillance video showed the man running in a panic into oncoming traffic, trailing smoke and flames. A witness, Alex Mayer, ran to his aid.

"It was a very scary scene," Mayer said. "I chased him. I told him to drop and roll, basically."

Another Good Samaritan also helped with a fire extinguisher.

Witnesses said it all started with an explosion inside the building at 910 McDonald Ave. in Brooklyn.

"We heard a loud bang, and we started seeing, smelling smoke rushing up -- upstairs," a woman said.

Fire investigators believe the fire started in the basement, where the young victim was spraying some kind of flammable flavoring on some material that is used in hookah pipes.

Something sparked a fireball that rolled through the building. The intense heat melted a plastic spray bottle and ignited a fire that severely damaged the first floor.

"Hazmat units are testing some unknown chemicals found in the basement," said FDNY Chief Mark Egan.

Egan said hazmat teams came as a precaution. There were fears that the fire scene might have been hosting a drug lab or criminal activity.

Mayer said he will never forget the terrible scene.

"He was conscious. He was yelling, 'Help! Help!' and then like, slowly, he was falling in and out of consciousness, but he was definitely breathing the whole time by himself," Mayer said.

The victim, in his 20s, was taken to Maimonides Medical Center with critical burns over much of his body. He later died.

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