Harvey Dunn installed a new fuel pump in the mini-motor home in which he lives, then he started the engine Friday afternoon and the vehicle burst into flames.
Dunn jumped clear. Some of his hair was singed, but he was otherwise uninjured.
Soon after, Salt Lake City firefighters rushed to the scene, near 200 South and 500 West, and extinguished the flames within two minutes.
But the 1978 Dodge, along with everything Dunn owned, was destroyed.
"At least I'm alive," said the 60-year-old Ogden native, who has spent the last 19 years traveling around in the motor home. "That's all I care about."
Dunn said had been parked at the spot for about three weeks. Before that, he was in Idaho.
Fire Department spokesman Jasen Asay said the blaze was reported at 1:25 p.m.
Dunn said he lost everything in the fire his clothes, his tools, even his bus pass and had no where else to go. But as the smoke turned to steam and fire crews rolled up their hoses, Mike Dugo and Will Gracia self-described homeless veterans said they had invited Dunn to come with them while he figured out what he was doing.
Dugo also said he and Gracia hope to collect donations to buy Dunn a new motor home.