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Man douses self with gas, sets self on fire

LINCOLN - In a scene that rattled police, firefighters and a hiker who witnessed the event, a Boston-area man committed suicide in a Lincoln parking lot early Friday morning by dousing himself with gasoline and setting himself on fire, Lincoln's police chief said.

"He dumped a can of gasoline on himself while he was standing, set the fire and he ran. He was still on fire when we got there," Chief Ted Smith said Friday afternoon.

Although the New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner's Office is not likely to have a positive identification before Monday on the body that was burned beyond recognition, Smith said police believe they know his identity. A concerned person had notified New Hampshire police to be on the look out for him, said Smith, who said his department is treating the matter as a case of suicide.

"A hiker spotted him in the parking lot of Lincoln Woods and called us. The hiker said, 'It's a mannequin on fire.' That poor guy going for a hike was really shook up," said Smith.

The chief said he was planning a quiet day of completing some paperwork in his office when the call came in at 7:30 a.m. Sgt. Joseph DeLuca was already headed for the parking lot, and Smith and Lt. Cecil Cooper arrived right behind him.

"I called the fire department, grabbed the lieutenant and went. We were there by 7:45. None of us have fire training," he said of the police officers. "The fire department people who responded were all young. They had never seen anything like this, and they were all shaken, too. We're going to have to talk to them," Smith said.

bhookway@newstote.com

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