A man was burned inside his rental car after he tried to kill the bedbugs populating it with alcohol, then lit a cigarette, setting the vehicle ablaze Tuesday afternoon outside an Eastport supermarket, police said.
Scott Kemery, 44, of Bridgehampton, was airlifted from the King Kullen shopping center, on Eastport Manor Road, to Stony Brook University Hospital with first- and second-degree burns, police said.
"He said he had bedbugs in the car, and someone told him if he saturated them with alcohol, it would kill them," said arson Det. Sgt. Edward Fitzgerald.PhotosRecent LI firesPhotosFirehouses across Long Island
"So he went and bought some alcohol, he poured it all in there and he sat in his car and lit a cigarette.."
The intense heat from the fire heavily damaged two other cars, police said.
Kemery was able to escape his burning car on his own, police said.
He remained in the emergency room Tuesday night, but was expected to be admitted, police said.
He told detectives that it was a rental car from Florida, police said, but the vehicle was so burned that the license plates are gone. Detectives want to get the VIN, or vehicle identification number, to confirm Kemery's full story, police said.
"Everything's burned up," Fitzgerald said, "so we're going to wait until the vehicle theft section gets us a confidential VIN number. Then we'll know for sure."
Fitzgerald said the fire does not appear to be criminal in nature at this point, but for now, the cause will be marked "undetermined" until all the evidence from Kemery and detectives is in.
So far, he said, "those facts seem to line up."