Suraj received third degree burns to his face, head, neck, chest, and shoulder, and has been in hospital since.
According to CBS News, the perpetrator has been identified as Kendall Burton, a 38-year-old homeless man and serial shoplifter. He had already made several appearances at the store that day, stealing lighter fluid each time. On his final visit, Burton fought with Suraj before dousing him in the liquid and igniting the blaze.
"I was so scared that moment," Suraj told the outlet "I tried to cover his hand, but I don't know. I don't remember. He just lit the fire on me you know. I just rushed to the restroom, and I just splashed water on my face."
After it became clear that medical intervention was necessary, he was taken to St. Francis Memorial Hospital, and had his wounds tended to.
Following the incident, Costa County law enforcement quickly arrived on scene and apprehended Burton. He is being held without bail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, battery, arson, and robbery.
"It's terrible," Suraj said of the whole situation. "I'm still in a trauma right now; me, my family."His wife, Sabeena, has set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his treatment. It has since raised over $22,000.
"Right now he is out of danger," she said. "As wounds by the burn takes time to heal and recover and we are overwhelmed by the mental trauma and the pressure of medical procedures."
Third degree burns can take months to heal, often requiring a number of surgeries and round the clock care.
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