Police say a 58 year-old homeless man is recovering at a USC hospital after being set on fire while sleeping near a beach in Ventura. A passerby used sand to put out the fire before calling police.
Police commander Tom Higgins said 58-year old John Frazier suffered burns to his upper torso and face, covering nearly 40 percent of his body. Higgins said the injuries don't appear to be life-threatening.
The incident took place around 11 p.m. Saturday at the south end of Seaward Avenue Saturday near San Buenaventura State Beach.
"When the fire department and officers arrived on the scene, some of his property was still smoldering," Higgins said.
Frazier, who was badly injured but still conscious, told police he was attacked by three men with shaved heads in their late teens and early twenties, Higgins said. All of them were wearing black clothing
"He said he'd been sleeping on the beach and awoke to finding himself on fire," Higgins said. "There were three individuals who had poured lighter fluid on him and set his sleeping bag and nearby property on fire."
A similar incident occurred not far away in Port Hueneme, where a man was found suffering burns. Higgins said they had initially thought the were related, but but have since found they're not.
In that incident, Port Hueneme police say a 46-year-old Oxnard man set himself on fire and ran toward the pier at Port Hueneme Beach Park at around 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
"The victim was first at the gazebo area," said officer Henry Montelongo, "and then ran approximately one hundred yards to where the officers found him," just short of the pier. The circumstances surround that incident are not yet fully clear.
Both investigations are ongoing. Police are asking anyone with information to contact Ventura detectives at (805) 339-4309 or Port Hueneme police at (805) 986 - 6500.
This story has been updated.