Man sets self on fire at University of Washington

4:00 PM, Oct 30, 2008   |    comments
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SEATTLE (AP) -- A 61-year-old man poured gasoline over himself and set himself on fire Thursday at the University of Washington in an apparent suicide attempt, police said.

The man was taken to a hospital with second- and third-degree burns, said Ralph H. Robinson, assistant campus police chief. There was no immediate word on his condition.

The fire was reported in the early afternoon in Red Square, a brick plaza at the center of the campus, said Robinson and city Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick.

It was unclear whether anyone nearby knew the man, Robinson said. No events or protests had been planned at the time.

It appeared to be a suicide attempt, Robinson said, adding: "We do not know why he did this. We do not know whether he was a student or staff or what his affiliation was."

UW student Jacob Maria told KOMO-TV he was in Suzzallo Library when he heard someone scream. He came out and saw a person engulfed in flames. Several people tried to put out the blaze with fire extinguishers and pieces of clothing.

"It was a huge fire. There were people running away saying, 'Someone just lit himself on fire,"' Maria said. "Everybody was pretty shaken up. I'm still kind of shocked that it happened."

After the flames were extinguished, the man appeared to be badly burned and was incoherent when medics arrived, Maria said. There was a strong smell of gasoline and a gas can in the man's backpack.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Associated Press

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