Written by Colin on 10/30/2008
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I saw a man set himself on fire today. He died several hours later in a hospital.

I was walking to my Biology lab today and was about halfway through the Quad when I saw a jet of flame shoot into the air from Red Square. I didn't really know what it was nor was I in the mood to run and see so I continued my walk. When I got closer I could see a people standing around the center of Red Square with nothing less than utter surprise/shock on their faces. A man (now reported as a 61 year old, not a student) had set himself on fire after dousing himself in gasoline in the very middle of the square. He apparently just poured gasoline on himself and lit himself on fire. What I saw from the Quad was the jet of flame shooting into the air as the gasoline ignited. A handful of people attempted to put the fire out with their clothes/jackets while others yelled/ran for help and fire extinguishers. By time I could actually see what was going on the fire was already out and he lay in charred clothes on the ground.

It didn't take long for the first fire truck to arrive at which time the firefighters cleared people from the immediate center of Red Square. Not long after that policemen started pouring in and finally an ambulance. I had to leave for my biology lab but apparently shortly after the entire Red Square area was blocked off (and still was about three hours later).

I still don't really know what to think because people do crazy things in the name of their beliefs all the time. I guess more information about the guy will filter out in the next few days but I'm sure this ruined the school (University of Washington) for the tour-group that was really nearby where I was.

He died a little while ago in Seattle's Harborview Hospital. He was a former UW employee.

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Photo by Nikolaj Lasbo.


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