The ignition of vapors from a 55-gallon drum of windshield washing fluid is the basis for a $250,000 suit filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday.

Edward A. Dockery, a Utahn who worked at 2375 W. North Temple, was hospitalized after the drum of "Zep Klear" windshield washer antifreeze and cleaner caused a fire on June 30, 1987.The suit names as defendant Zep Manufacturing Co. of Georgia, which sells the windshield washing material nationwide.

Dockery was at work where an open drum of the fluid was stored. While standing three or four feet from the drum, he lit a cigarette, the suit says. The spark caused the vapors to burst into flames, and Dock-ery was severely burned on the neck and upper chest and upper arms, according to the suit.

The suit says state law requires chemical manufacturers to label each container with appropriate warnings. It claims Zep Manufacturing failed to label or mark the barrel with information about the hazardous chemical or hazard warnings.

Defendant acted with "reckless disregard in placing an unmarked dangerous product in the stream of commerce," the suit adds. In addition to medical expenses and to actual damages of $250,000, it asks for attorney fees and punitive damages.