CYPRESS, Texas (KHOU) -- A 20-year-old woman taking off nail polish with a candle nearby suffered severe burns over 50 percent of her body Friday night.
The Cy-Fair fire marshal said vapors from the flammable nail polish remover caught the flame and burned up to 50 percent of the woman's body. The woman's boyfriend said she suffered burns from her neck down on the front of her body, but she's conscious, talking and recovering at Memorial Hermann Hospital.
The flames caught the woman's clothes on fire, the fire marshal said, caused by a flash fire when a concentrated amount of the nail polish remover vapors caught the candle's flame. The woman ran outside screaming for help, which caught the attention of one of her neighbors.
"She was screaming I'm on fire, help help!" said neighbor Adam Berrett. "So I took off my jacket and I put the fire out and I told her 'stop drop and roll' and as she was rolling. I was just putting out the fire, helping her put the fire out."
By the time the fire was put out, the woman had already suffered severe burns.
"Doesn't take much," said Dennis Lee, lead investigator with the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department.
Lee has seen more fires started from candles than he can count.
When it comes to flammable liquids, he says it doesn't take contact with the liquid itself, just the vapors to start a fire.
"If you've got the door closed, it's gonna build up vapors in the room, and you've got an open flame there, so that's real easy to ignite it," said Lee, adding that a flash fire can mean "poof, then it's out. But that poof was long enough to catch her clothing on fire."
The damage to the woman's home was minimal, fire officials said.
It's a moment firefighters say people need to be aware of, especially with flammable liquids that cause kitchen fires, which can spread much faster and farther.
"If you have another pan or a lid, just set it on there, that'll put out the fire," Lee said during a demonstration of a fire catching in a pan on a stove.
The best line of defense, though, is calling 911. And officials say to be sure to have a fire extinguisher in your home, and know where it is. Local fire departments offer free lessons on how to use an extinguisher, if needed.
Lee says read labels to be sure you know what's flammable, and don't wait until an emergency to brush up on fire safety. Most importantly if you find yourself on fire, immediately stop, drop and roll.
"They tend to forget some of the things they learned earlier in life and they end up getting hurt," said Lee.