Brian Aucutt, 58, a homeless Delta man, was seriously burned while attempting to ignite a kerosene heater late Friday afternoon.
Aucutt was occupying the crawlspace in a vacant home at 210 Main Street, just north of Hoolie's.
A Hoolie's employee reports that Aucutt walked into the restaurant. Although she knows Aucutt, she didn't recognize him at first because of his blackened face and burned hands and head.
"It was horrific," she said. "I'll never forget it."
Aucutt asked her to call the fire department. She dialed 9-1-1 and requested an ambulance as well, then grabbed some towels to apply to his injuries. Delta Police Department officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel arrived almost immediately, she said.
Aucutt was transported by ambulance to Delta County Memorial Hospital and was later transferred to another facility. At last report, he was being treated at a Denver hospital with a burn unit.
The door to the house at 210 Main is boarded up, but not because of the fire. The Hoolie's employee, who declined to be named, said several break-ins have been attempted so the owners simply boarded up the door.
She said her heart goes out to Aucutt. "I feel terrible for him," she said. "He was just trying to stay warm."
She described Aucutt as a gentle soul who wouldn't harm a fly. He has held a couple of jobs and is known to several people as "Car Wash Brian."
"We need to come together as a community to address the needs of the homeless," she said. "We need to have more resources."
With the support of over 300 volunteers from the community, Abraham Connection operates a homeless shelter at 480 Silver Street. Emergency overnight shelter and food is offered to men, women and families. Anyone who needs assistance is welcome.
"We are here to be that resource," said board member Kami Collins. "We don't want to see anyone cold or hungry. That's the reason this nonprofit organization has been in existence for seven years." For more information, to make a referral or to volunteer, call 773-8290.