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A Sign? Man Bursts Into Flames at San Francisco Sex Shop

Apr 15, 2011 – 3:04 PM
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David Lohr

David Lohr Senior Crime Reporter

For seven years, Roger Huang, a pastor who runs a rescue mission in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, has been trying to shut down the sex shops there. This week he may have seen a sign that his efforts are working.

On Wednesday, a man burst into flames while inside one of those porn shops, police said.

Could this bizarre incident be attributed to a higher power?
An employee smokes in front of the Golden Gate Adult Superstore in San Francisco, CA is seen on April 15, 2011.
Jeff Costello, AOL News
An employee smokes in front of the Golden Gate Adult Superstore in San Francisco.

"I believe so. I definitely believe so," Huang told AOL News, adding that he hopes the unidentified man is recovering from the burns.

The police aren't ruling anything out.

"We don't know what caused it," Lt. Troy Dangerfield of the San Francisco Police Department told AOL News. "It's still under investigation."

Witnesses reportedly saw the burning man running out of the Golden Gate Adult Superstore in the city's South of Market neighborhood at about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday. The man ran past stunned onlookers and collapsed at the corner of Mission and Sixth streets, police said.

"There was an ambulance crew that was in the area -- a private ambulance company -- that witnessed this person collapse, so they [extinguished the flames and] called it into the dispatch center," San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge told AOL News.

The man, whose name has not been released, was taken to the burn center at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, where he is being treated for first-, second- and third-degree burns that reportedly cover 90 percent of his body.

"He suffered life-threatening injuries," Dangerfield said, adding, "He's still recovering."

According to KTVU, an employee said the man had been watching a film in the back of the store when he suddenly ran out screaming and on fire.

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Contacted by AOL News today, a man who answered the phone at the sex shop declined to discuss the incident. "I don't know nothing about it," he said.

Talmadge said a fire investigator is still looking into the case. Oddly, she said authorities have found "no damage to the inside of the building at all."

So who knows what caused it?

"I don't know if you believe in prayer," Huang said, "but ... the last seven years, every August, I go to every store and pray that it [will] be closed down. We have had seven or eight that have been closed down ever since."
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