Denny’s fire victim ‘didn’t know if I was going to live or die’

Scott Ranstrom was set on fire on April 19

Scott Ranstrom is recovering well 4 months after he was the victim of a horrific attack when a stranger poured gasoline on him and set him on fire, August 11, 2017 (KOIN)
Scott Ranstrom is recovering well 4 months after he was the victim of a horrific attack when a stranger poured gasoline on him and set him on fire, August 11, 2017 (KOIN)


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland man who survived after a stranger poured gasoline on him at a Denny’s Restaurant then set him on fire is well enough now to share his story.

Scott Ranstrom, 69, was critically burned on his face, head, both hands and other parts of his body. He spent 2 months in a medically induced coma and has undergone several operations since the April 19 attack.

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“I had lost almost 60 pounds,” he said. “I had no muscle mass whatsoever and I was flat in bed for another 2 and a half months.”

Now Ranstrom is working hard to recover and healing well despite the odds. His hands, which were burned beyond recognition, have skin grafts from elsewhere on his body and he’s working on standing and eventually walking again.

Scott Ranstrom is recovering well 4 months after he was the victim of a horrific attack when a stranger poured gasoline on him and set him on fire. (KOIN)
Scott Ranstrom is recovering well 4 months after he was the victim of a horrific attack when a stranger poured gasoline on him and set him on fire. (KOIN)

Ranstrom was emotional speaking about how close he came to dying.

“I came so close,” he said. “For two months, while I was in a coma, they didn’t know if I was going to live or die.”

His body is healing now, but what can’t be healed are the memories from that night. Ranstrom was sitting at the Denny’s near Clackamas Town Center, just working on his computer as he frequently did.

Scott Ranstrum, 69, was critically injured when a man poured gasoline on him and set him on fire at a Denny’s restaurant, April 19, 2017. (GoFundMe)

“All of a sudden I feel liquid all over me. I realize it’s gas,” he told KOIN 6 News. “Then FAVOOM. I’m on fire.”

He said a man jumped in to smother the flames with his coat and the next thing he remembers was being in the ambulance with paramedics cutting his burned clothes off.

“It feels like it was yesterday. I remember everything,” he said.

“You’re on fire. You can’t do nothing. If that guy hadn’t jumped over the table and put his coat on me I wouldn’t be here,” Ranstrom told KOIN 6 News. “My clothes were on fire …. how do you describe what that’s like? Your hair is burning off, you smell it, you feel your skin burning.”

Ranstrom said it’s his family that got him through the ordeal. His oldest brother, 77, drove from Oklahoma to see him. His two sisters directed his care and have been “unbelievable.”

GoFundMe for Scott Ranstrom

“I never knew I had so many people that loved me. Honest to God,” Ranstrom said. “To have all these people come around me and share their love, I can’t tell you what a difference that made.”

The man accused of setting Ranstrom on fire is 24-year-old DeShaun Swanger. He was arrested outside the transitional house he was living in near the Denny’s after an intense daylong search.

Swanger faces a charge of aggravated attempted murder.

DeShaun Swanger, 24, in file mugshots from 2013-2016. (CCSO/MCSO)