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The woman came into the Champlain Farms store at 328 North Ave. in Burlington shortly before 12:30 p.m. Monday. She paid for $5 in gasoline, and placed an ID on the counter saying, ?I don?t need this anymore.?
The store manager, Kasey Morgan, thought the remark was odd, and decided to keep an eye on the woman as she returned to her faded gold Subaru Forester hatchback to pump the gas, said David Simendinger, the owner of the convenience store.
To Morgan?s horror, the woman started pouring the gasoline on herself. Morgan immediately pushed a big button near the counter that shut off the gas pumps, Simendinger said. It was too late. The woman set herself ablaze.
Morgan grabbed a fire extinguisher and dashed out of the store, and tried covering the woman with the extinguisher. Two customers, regulars from Omega Electric, also grabbed fire extinguishers and tried to help, Simendinger said.
Burlington Fire and Police departments arrived within minutes. By then, Morgan had put out the flames, but the woman was fatally injured.
The woman was taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care, where she was pronounced dead, said Burlington Police said. As of early Monday evening, authorities were withholding the woman?s name pending the notification of her family.
Simendinger said the woman was in her 30s, and store employees said they don?t remember seeing her at the store before Monday.
Morgan also ended up at Fletcher Allen, as a precaution. She wasn?t physically hurt, but was distraught at what she saw, said her husband Mathew Morgan.
Morgan?s husband and two children, a son and a daughter, went to the station after the fire to comfort her. A knot of about six or seven people stood in front of the store while police and fire officials investigated. Most of them were employees or customers who witnessed the incident. All of them declined to discuss it.
Simendinger said Kasey Morgan is a hero for her quick action, which prevented an even bigger tragedy amid the volatile mix of gasoline and flame.