How rocks collected from a southern Orange County beach caught fire in the pocket of a San Clemente woman's cargo shorts, landing her in a hospital with third-degree burns, remained a mystery Friday.
» Sign Up For Breaking News Alerts» Like Us On Facebook» Follow Us On Twitter
Forty-three year-old Lyn Hiner's children picked up the seven orange and green rocks on Saturday at San Onofre State Beach, which is popular with surfers and known locally as Trestles.
The rocks combusted and set the Hiner's shorts on fire and continued to burn the wood floor of her Avenida Estrella house, according Capt. Marc Stone of the Orange County Fire Authority.
Hiner was hospitalized at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana with third-degree burns to her right thigh and knee, Stone said. He added that the victim "stopped, dropped and rolled" in an effort to douse the flames, and her husband suffered second-degree burns to his hands as he tried to help.
The couple appeared on Good Morning America alongside his wife at the Santa Ana, Calif., burn center where she is being treated, said they had no idea what was happening.
"It was just this bright intense flame," Rob Hiner said. "We didn't know what it was. Our first response was just to try to pat it out.
"But, In trying to pat it out, it wasn't going out so the next thing was just to try and drop and roll and eventually we just tried to tear her shorts off and got them off of her," he said.
Fire authorities responded to smoke alarms in the couple's home that were set off because the flames in Lyn Hiner's pockets were so intense.
"There were actual flames coming off of her cargo shorts," Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Marc Stone told ABC News. "The husband was outside with a garden hose, actually trying to cool her leg down."
The couple were eventually taken to the Grossman Burn Center, where Lyn Hiner continues to recover from the severe burns on her hands and leg.
"I've never seen anything like this," her doctor, Dr. Andrea Dunkelman, said today on Good Morning America. "She has third-degree burns, which means that it's been burned all the way through her skin to her underlying tissue, her fat. We treated her by placing skin grafts from her thigh to that area."
Lynn's husband, Rob, suffered burns on his hands in the incident while trying to come to his wife's aid.
"We're exhausted but we're overwhelmed with love and support," Rob Hiner said. "We're just grateful. We're grateful that things weren't worse and God just continues to provide for us in this situation."
The Orange County Health Care Agency is running tests on the rocks, but results could be days away, Stone said.
Two of the rocks were found to contain phosphorous, which can burn like a road flare when ignited, but the other five were cross-contaminated while in the woman's pocket, according to ABC7.
The rocks were smooth and some were the size of a hamburger patty, while others were small enough to fit in a coffee cup, according to news reports.
"There is phosphorous that naturally occurs on the sand at the beach, but no one has ever heard of pants catching fire," Stone told the Orange County Register.
The beach where the rocks were found is not far from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and the Camp Pendleton Marine base. San Clemente Island, which lies about 20 miles off the coast, is owned by the U.S. Navy and is its only remaining live firing range, according to a Navy website. The island has also been the site of rocket tests.
Copyright Do you have more information about this story? Click here to contact usCopyright 2012 by City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.