Man dies after setting himself on fire in Yelm

A 23-year-old Roy man died after lighting himself on fire near the Yelm Safeway late Tuesday night.

“In my career, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Yelm police Chief Todd Stancil. “It’s a sad, horrific story.”

Witnesses reported seeing the man walk across the parking lot, toward East Yelm Avenue, about 11 p.m. Tuesday. When he reached the sidewalk, the man poured liquid on himself. Stancil said witnesses didn’t know at the time that the liquid was lighter fluid.

The man then took out a box of matches and set himself on fire. A couple driving past stopped and tried to put out the fire using a fire extinguisher.

Police officers and firefighters from the Southeast Thurston Fire Authority arrived a short time later. The man was conscious.

“He was obviously in an extreme amount of pain,” Stancil said.

The man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he died early Wednesday morning, Stancil said.

Although the man didn’t survive, Stancil said he wants to thank the witnesses who stopped to help.

“There are good people out there,” Stancil said, “even if this didn’t end the way we all wanted it to.”

Amelia Dickson: 360-754-5445, @Amelia_Oly