A state representative from Winthrop was burned badly Tuesday morning while attempting to light a brush pile on fire but was expected to make a full recovery.

Investigators said that the representative, Craig Hickman, 50, was using gasoline to start the fire when gas vapors caught his clothing on fire, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. Hickman “was seriously burned” on his legs and chest, McCausland said in a news release.

In an email to lawmakers, House Speaker Sara Gideon said Hickman suffered first-degree burns but was expected to recover.

Hickman was taken first to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston by ambulance, then later flown to Maine Medical Center in Portland by LifeFlight of Maine helicopter, according to McCausland.

“Fire investigators, aided by Maine Forest Rangers, say Hickman poured a small amount of gasoline on the brush pile and then lit a cardboard egg carton and placed it on the pile,” McCausland said. “That is when the vapors from the gasoline exploded.”

At 2:25 p.m., a hospital representative said Hickman was listed in fair condition.

Hickman is a Democrat who represents Winthrop, Readfield and part of Monmouth. Along with his husband, Jop Blom, he operates Annabessacook Farm, a farm and bed-and-breakfast in Winthrop.

In the wake of the announcement, many colleagues and politics-watchers tweeted out their well wishes for Hickman.

Gov. Paul LePage said he and his wife, Ann, “wished a speedy recovery from the injuries he suffered today. He and I have worked closely together on a number of issues. Get well soon, Craig.”

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and party officials shared messages of support for Hickman and his loved ones.

“My heart and my prayers are with Craig, his husband Jop and his entire family,” Gideon said in a prepared statement. “May he have a swift and full recovery.”

Asked whether Hickman’s injuries would affect any legislative matters, the communications director for Gideon, Mary-Erin Casale, declined to respond directly. But she said that when lawmakers left the State House on Monday, they were not planning to return to session until the week of July 23.

The fire was reported around 9:30 a.m. behind Hickman’s home on Annabessacook Road. It was investigated by the state fire marshal’s office, with assistance from the forest rangers.

After Hickman was injured, an unidentified person tried to drive him to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, McCausland said. But they decided to seek help at the new Winthrop fire station on U.S. Route 202, where local police and rescue workers met them.

A representative from the fire marshal’s office did not respond immediately to a request for more information about the fire.

On Tuesday, there was a moderate risk that a wildfire could start across much of Maine, including in Winthrop, according to the website of the Maine Forest Service.

Sarah Fuller, the chairwoman of the Winthrop Town Council, who is a friend of Hickman and Blom, said Hickman was resting in the hospital and expects to be there for several days, but he should make a full recovery.

“Hopefully, he’ll be home in a couple of days,” Fuller said.

“We’re optimistic that he will be back and doing what he’s used to doing at the farm,” she said.

Because Hickman will have to keep his wounds clean, she said, volunteers will be signing up to help with the farm on the Annabessacook Farm Facebook page toward the end of the week.

In the meantime, Fuller said she has been fielding inquiries about Hickman.

“People can contact me so Jop and Craig can focus on Craig getting better,” she said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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