Investigators clear cell phone in Calif. pants fire

/ Source: The Associated Press

A fire that started in a man's pants pocket, critically injuring him and destroying his hotel room, was not ignited by a cell phone as authorities suspected, phone technicians said.

Nokia Corp. engineers found that the charred device still worked Wednesday and convinced fire department investigators that it had not spontaneously ignited in Luis Picaso's pocket.

"He could have been smoking a cigarette, the cigarette fell into his pocket, and it started on fire," Vallejo fire inspector Bill Tweedy said. "We don't know that. We weren't there."

The fire caused about $75,000 in damage to the residential hotel and a ground-floor business. Picaso, 59, was in critical condition Thursday with second- and third-degree burns to his upper body, right arm and right leg.

The fire apparently started in Picaso's pants pocket while he slept on a plastic lawn chair in his room, authorities said. Picaso is under heavy sedation and doesn't seem to remember what happened, Tweedy said.