Spanaway man suing after suffering major burns from propane gardening torch

Brandon Austin suffered major burns last August while using a Greenwood Propane Torch. He's now suing  the torch manufacturer - Harbor Freight Tools. (Photo: Brandon Austin)

SPANAWAY, Wash. - In a lawsuit, a Pierce County man says he caught on fire while using a gardening tool in his yard. Now he's suing Harbor Freight Tools for damages and sounding the alarm.

One minute Brandon Austin was burning weeds with a propane torch, the next, he was on fire.

His attorney says the so-called 'safe and easy to use' propane torch has scarred him for life.

"He is stunned," said Darrell Cochran, Austin's attorney.

Cochran says his hands, arms, neck and upper torso were burned.

Austin was burning weeds in his Spanaway yard last August with a Greenwood Propane Torch when his attorney says the torch started hissing and then caught on fire right in Austin’s hands.

"The gas is spewing out of the coupling or whatever you call it, it's either a design defect or a manufacturing defect," said Cochran.

Austin has filed suit against Harbor Freight Tools naming them as owner of the Greenwood trademark.

A spokeswoman for Harbor Freight Tools told KOMO in an email that the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Cochran insists Austin followed the instructions, which describe the product as 'safe and easy to use'.

"This had nothing to do with what he did," insisted Cochran.

He said Austin got burned the first time he used the torch after only 20 minutes. He said once he was on fire, he threw himself to the ground to put out the flames, and caught part of his lawn on fire.

Cochran said he had to be treated for second and third degree burns at Harborview Medical Center. Five months later, he’s back at work and preparing to be a new father in February.

His attorney added the ironic part is that the soon to be father, has had an unscathed career as a 9-year Army National Guardsman.

"At some level he is sitting there trying to recover from the burns saying, 'after all I've been through, on behalf of my country how does it happen when I’m just in my backyard?'" said Cochran.

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