DECATUR - A 27-year-old Decatur man was arrested on preliminary charges of heinous battery for allegedly spilling gasoline on a 52-year-old man and setting him on fire.

The victim suffered second- and third-degree burns to 30 percent of his body, including his face, nose, mouth, both arms and left side. He was treated at the St. Mary's Hospital emergency room Thursday evening, then airlifted to Memorial Medical Center in Springfield for treatment in its burn unit.

Phillip L. Green of the 1000 block of West Howard Street was arrested about 8:30 p.m. Thursday after witnesses told police he threw gasoline from a red plastic gas can on the victim and then set him on fire, according to a sworn statement by a Decatur police officer.

The two men had been arguing at Green's residence, witnesses said. They then continued the argument outside. Two witnesses told police Green threw gasoline on the man, then pulled out a lighter and set him on fire.

A third witness said Green and the victim struggled over the gas can, and the victim was covered with gasoline during the struggle. The victim then fell to the ground, and Green then set him on fire.

Green told police he had been fighting with the victim because the victim refused to leave his home. The victim then walked off with a gas can. The victim returned a few minutes later and asked Green to light his cigarette. Green said when he lit his cigarette he caught fire.

When the police officer asked Green why he smelled like gasoline, he had no response.

Green is being held in the Macon County Jail on $250,000 bond. He is due to appear in circuit court within a week for his arraignment.

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