POLICE say a man is dead after he accidentally drank from a jar of petrol and then smoked a cigarette.

Havelock police received an emergency call late on Monday local time after 43-year-old Gary Allen Banning set himself on fire. Banning was transported to UNC Burn Center in Chapel Hill, where he died early yesterday morning.

City spokeswoman Diane Miller said investigators believe Banning was at a friend’s apartment when he apparently mistook a jar of petrol sitting by the kitchen sink for a beverage. After taking a gulp, he spat the gas out and got some on his clothes.

Sometime later, investigators say Banning went outside to smoke a cigarette and burst into flames.

Havelock police and the city fire marshal are continuing their investigation.