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Good Samaritan collapses, dies trying to aid boy in Moorhead grill fire

Tragedy struck in Moorhead on Sunday evening when a backyard grill exploded, burning a boy, and a 21-year-old man who apparently ran to the scene to help collapsed and later died, police and fire officials said.

The accident happened at 7:48 p.m. when an explosion in north Moorhead prompted "multiple calls" to 911, Sgt. Mike Detloff of the Moorhead Police Department said.

First responders arrived at the backyard of 909 9th St. N., where a 21-year-old man was found lying near the charcoal grill.

Emergency medical technicians tried to resuscitate the man, who did not appear to have any burns, Detloff said.

"Our preliminary information is he heard the explosion and came running to assist," he said.

Inside the house, a 12-year-old boy was taking a shower, apparently trying to cleanse and cool serious burns to his upper body, officials said.

Both victims were transported by ambulance to MeritCare Hospital, where the man later died, Detloff said.

The condition of the boy was unknown by police and fire officials.

"I know he did have burns," Detloff said.

Authorities were not releasing the name of either victim Sunday night. The two, both from Moorhead, apparently were not related, Detloff said.

An autopsy will be performed by the Ramsey County medical examiner's office on the 21-year-old, Detloff said.

Details of the accident still were sketchy Sunday night as police and fire officials continued their investigation.

The explosion apparently was caused by gasoline vapor, said Assistant Fire Chief Greg Doeden of the Moorhead Fire Department.

"I'm assuming he was trying to start the grill with gasoline," Doeden said. A plastic gasoline container was lying near the grill, with the bottom melted, he said.

Gasoline, he added, "should never, ever be used to start a grill, bonfire or anything."

Gasoline is very volatile, especially in warmer temperatures, and the vapors are highly flammable and easily ignited, Doeden said.

"It's got such a low flashpoint," he said.

The Moorhead fire marshal will investigate the fire today, Doeden said.