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Thursday, October 30, 2008

More on the UW Fire

posted by on October 30 at 13:41 PM


According to Assistant UW Police Chief Ralph Robinson, a 61-year-old Asian man poured gasoline on himself in Red Square and lit himself on fire earlier this afternoon.

The man was transported to Harborview with second and third-degree burns. His current condition is unknown.

Robinson says police have not determined whether the man was a faculty member or student or what motivated the incident. “That’s probably the number one question we all have,” Robinson says.


UW just sent out this message to students:

Dear UW Students,

Many of you may have witnessed or heard about the tragic incident on Red Square today in which a former UW employee set fire to himself. Sadly he died later at Harborview Medical Center, our condolences go out to his family. We all recognize that it was a terrifying and painful thing for people to see. After witnessing a traumatic event you may experience a number of reactions; shock, fear, sadness, or heightened emotions. The University has a number of offices available to help you get through this time.

RSS icon Comments


Doesn't he know that the deadline for Hump! film submission has, like, waaaaay passed?

Posted by violet_dagrinder | October 30, 2008 1:46 PM

Another Mr. Poe rejection...

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | October 30, 2008 1:48 PM

[elenchos]Who really poured gasoline on this man? What did he know? What files did he have? Why isn't there a suicide note tacked to his head?[/elenchos]

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 30, 2008 1:53 PM

Aw, sad

Posted by Non | October 30, 2008 1:53 PM

Both 2 and 3 win. Fight it out among yourselves.

Posted by David Schmader | October 30, 2008 1:54 PM

Who got the screencaps?

Posted by stinkbug | October 30, 2008 1:55 PM

This guy is totally hardcore. I'll let him fuck me in another life. Don't think he'll be of much use in this one anymore.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 30, 2008 1:58 PM

There is nothing funny about this. I worked in a large trauma center when a woman who self-immolated came in. It was a life-changing experience. Her skin peeled of like wet rags where it wasn't charred to greasy ash. I have never witnessed such agony and there is very little medicine can do to mitigate the pain. The pt has to be kept completely unconcious and rarely survives. The stench of burnt flesh, clothes and gasoline must be what a car-bombing smells like. This was an act of great psychic pain.

Posted by inkweary | October 30, 2008 1:59 PM

While I have no problems with anyone else doing it, I am not inclined to might light of this one. It just sort of makes me sad.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 30, 2008 2:02 PM

Obviously not a student in either the Global Health or Environmental Studies departments ...

I thought it was someone burning leaves. From this far away ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 30, 2008 2:03 PM

I heard a phalanx of fire trucks zoom by not long ago. Fucking awful awful.

Posted by Ziggity | October 30, 2008 2:04 PM

There are way too many people who think that their experiences in trauma mean nobody should laugh about anything.

Posted by get over yourself, and hey, take your stupid fucking "experiences" with you | October 30, 2008 2:04 PM

I guess that would explain the helicopter that was hovering over my building for the last 1/2 hour.

Posted by MD | October 30, 2008 2:08 PM

He was distraught that someone told him about Assisted Suicide.

"Assisted? I'm not too old to do it myself!"

And so, he showed the world!

Posted by John Bailo | October 30, 2008 2:10 PM

I hope those who find this sort of thing amusing and fodder for "clever" commentary spend most of their time commenting on blogs and not actually out in the world, because frankly, I'd prefer that you weren't part of it. Sorry for not seeing the joke - I must be a self-righteous pompous prick.

Posted by fuck you | October 30, 2008 2:13 PM

@12 Cowardly Sockpuppet that you are, I don't claim to be any better or wiser than anyone else for having worked in that ER but I did learn that the abject pain and suffering of others isn't funny and that a little compassion for others costs nothing. I have a healthy cynicism about most things in life but one thing I know for sure is that you are a low cur.

Posted by inkweary | October 30, 2008 2:19 PM

Exactly how am I a "sockpuppet" for doing doing this:

Posted by Also, it's a shame that all you know about life couldn't save this guy. Murderer. | October 30, 2008 2:24 PM

WTF! the one day I don't go to school...

Posted by mollie | October 30, 2008 2:27 PM

I think he was just sad about Phoenix and wanted to go up in flames like a Phoenix.

Too bad nobody told him it doesn't work for humans.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 30, 2008 2:30 PM

Dear everyone:

Please remember that this man who decided to pour gasoline all over himself and light himself on fire was a person. Persons that choose to do this are no different than you. Would you want people to laugh and make fun of you if you did this? Who are you, anyway? Do you have kids? Is your son a in a frat at UW who has chosen the fine life of "almost went pro," "tonight let's get shitfaced (again)," and "I didn't realize she passed out"? Well what if he decided to do this? Wouldn't be so funny, now would it. What if your daughter, who didn't realize it was her brother, woke up and didn't have any brother to press charges against for rape/incest because he lit himself on fire? If this hasn't knocked some sense into you—if you still think that this is funny—you have problems. Don't you remember what it was like to have to use one of these events as an excuse for your horrible grades? Remember when you talked mommy and daddy into getting you a therapist because, "you totally knew that person." Remember when you dragged it out for the better part of three years, and the occasional party every other two years? It wasn't fun. It still isn't. These students are hurt, even somewhat burdened by what they have seen. Hey, come over here. Let's hold hands.

Posted by This is very serial guys. | October 30, 2008 2:44 PM

Too bad it wasn't an editor of the UW Daily.

Posted by Suspicious of All These Brand New Folks Turning Up in Comment | October 30, 2008 2:49 PM

Man! I work in Kane hall and all this happened about 30 mins before I got there.

Posted by CP | October 30, 2008 2:49 PM

Heh heh, FIRE, heh heh

Posted by Beavis | October 30, 2008 2:50 PM

Fiiiiii-uh...uh...UH!!! - James Williams

man on fire = loser NO SYMPATHY FOR THIS MAN

Posted by dont care | October 30, 2008 2:52 PM

People! People, please...

Posted by The burning flesh of one man should inspire compassion in the rest of us | October 30, 2008 3:03 PM

i cried so hard when i read this

Posted by wat | October 30, 2008 3:04 PM

Maybe he was an OKC Thunder fan??

Posted by blackhook | October 30, 2008 3:08 PM

@20 - You do realize that abject, uncomprehending horror and making funnies aren't entirely incompatible, don't you? Now where's my Zippo?

Posted by Smade | October 30, 2008 3:13 PM

@20 I highly doubt this guy was worried about what others might think of or comment on blogs about his actions.

Posted by Little Red Ryan Hood | October 30, 2008 3:15 PM

at 61 years old, i gotta wonder: why red square?

Posted by max solomon | October 30, 2008 3:27 PM

Well, someone who was passing through said they didn't hear him make any statement before, but that they should have clued in what with the gasoline can he had.

You realize, of course, that we're bound to get more of this, no matter what happens, after Tuesday.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 30, 2008 3:37 PM

What, I'm not good enough any more?

Posted by The Aurora Bridge | October 30, 2008 3:37 PM


YES, if I ever light myself on fire, please laugh about it. Especially if I did it on purpose. I invite you to make a cold, crazy world a little more bearable however you can. I would not presume to tell you how to think, feel, or cope. I would never suggest that you lack humanity, decency, or compassion based on your ability to engage in gallows humor. To do so would be emotionally immature and, ironically, lacking in understanding and compassion. Giggle away.


LOL! Touche.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | October 30, 2008 3:38 PM

Humor, gallows or otherwise does make help life bearable and even sharply pointed humor such as sarcasm, satire and derision have an honoraqble place in life and literature. One thing is clear to me though, compassion is laughing with, not at.

Posted by inkweary | October 30, 2008 3:56 PM

Kind of hard to laugh after setting yourself on fire, inkweary.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 30, 2008 4:01 PM

Will, You just proved my point. @33 is the one who invited us to laugh while he/she burned, presumably we would just be joining in with the general mirth of the moment.

Posted by inkweary | October 30, 2008 4:13 PM

Clearly he wanted to die, and he wanted to do it in a way that was dramatic and unforgettable. This isn't just a guy lighting himself on fire. It's a guy lighting himself on fire to tell us something about ourselves and our society. Surely everyone remembers the monks who killed themselves the same way to protest Ngo Dinh Diem's policies?

Posted by Greg | October 30, 2008 4:33 PM

This thread is hilarious. Like the organ donation icon on our driver's licenses, perhaps we should implement "may laugh at my misfortune" icons. That way we won't accidentally laugh at the wrong people.

Posted by Aislinn | October 30, 2008 4:33 PM

@34 - Exactly. Richard Pryor was able to laugh about setting himself on fire - that was a suicide attempt as well. He brought the audience along and let them laugh with him, because it was funny. That doesn't make the audience uncompassionate, and he got a huge round of applause for talking about it. They were all pulling for him though.

Posted by wench | October 30, 2008 5:14 PM

He must have suddenly realized he'd never get to bone Amanda Knox.

Posted by Cookie W. Monster | October 30, 2008 5:38 PM

oooooooh, are you sure you're not Charles, Cookie W Monster?

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 30, 2008 6:12 PM

Worst job ever: the poor UW maintenance guy I walked by on my way to the bus, wearing a gas mask and scrubbing the scene down, surrounded by police tape.

And re: the burnee-- way to fuck up a bunch of people, asshole. It's fucking midterms. If you had to go, and by all means, I'm not going to condemn that decision, MUST you do it in a place where you know hundreds of people are going to watch you die in a rather gruesome fashion? That's a dick move.

Posted by Jessica | October 30, 2008 6:29 PM
After witnessing a traumatic event you may experience a number of reactions; shock, fear, sadness, or heightened emotions. The University has a number of offices available to help you get through this time.

Wow. Whatever genius posted #20 totally nailed it. M-hm.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 30, 2008 6:56 PM

Wow. You all are completely fucked up. Not that theres anything wrong with that.

Posted by blah! | October 30, 2008 8:07 PM

superwill in seattle

to paraphrase your terminology...

@10 & 19 for the FAIL.

you are not funny.

stop trying.

i don't think it will ever work out for you.

Posted by you fucking douche | October 30, 2008 9:04 PM

There is a deep sickness on display in this thread.

Posted by Patrick McGrath | October 30, 2008 9:44 PM

I'm a slightly older student at UW, I didn't even see or hear about this until I read an email about it, and it still upsets me. Sad that I didn't even know about it, that I found out about it that way.


Trying to send good thoughts to all. Be well.

Posted by hey hey | October 30, 2008 10:39 PM

I'm not easily shocked, and this thread doesn't shock me. It does disturb me a little, though.

Those of you calling him names and getting angry for being...what, inconvenienced ("mid-terms," Jessica @ 42? really?)??? Have you considered the poor guy was likely mentally ill?

It's tragic how many sick people are wandering around this city who need help. They deserve to be treated like human beings.

Some of the people on this thread, however...I'm no so sure.

Posted by Matthew | October 30, 2008 10:55 PM

@48, you're an idiot if you think Jessica is an idiot. Have you considered that he is mentally ill? Are you a fucking idiot? I'm pretty sure we've all considered that he's mentally ill you fucking dipshit. However, the fact of the matter is that it was obviously a planned scenario. A cry for fucking attention. A bitch move made by a bitch. A fucking employee, formerly, goes to red square, where suzzallo cafe, by george cafe, and a huge intersection to libraries and classrooms are, during lunch hour and a class change time (when people head from one class to another), during week 6, which any employee or student knows is midterm time, and lights himself on fucking fire...If you don't think that's a dick move, you're a stupid dumb fucking idiot who is beyond help, and you should go set yourself on fire. Fag.

Posted by A Guy With Common Sense | October 31, 2008 2:34 AM

It's only traumatic if you decide to let suicidal pyromaniac dramawhores affect you.

Posted by brent | October 31, 2008 3:24 AM

I just figured he missed burning man this year

Posted by Hfffhj | October 31, 2008 7:30 AM

Just wondering why the Stranger thought it mattered that this guy was Asian? Were he white, would they have mentioned it? What's with the double standard?

Posted by just wondering | October 31, 2008 7:42 AM

Yes, 52, we would have.

Posted by Jonah S | October 31, 2008 9:07 AM

Bellevue Ave, you just can't quit me, can you?

Posted by elenchos | October 31, 2008 9:26 AM

I work at the UW and know a few of people that tried to put the guy out with their coats and fire extinguishers. Staring into the eyes of a guy with his face melted mostly off moaning "oh my god" has seriously fucked with them. This was a brutal and painful way to die and it was horrible he dragged so many innocent by-standers into it by doing it in one of the most busy public places on campus.

Posted by sarah | October 31, 2008 9:40 AM

People using humor to cope with tragedy is an old story. It can be a good thing. In this case though I think it's just a cheap attempt to appear bad ass and above it all. It takes a lot more courage to actually be able to feel compassion for someone like this man. Geez, what would drive somebody to set themselves on fire?

You have to earn the right to gallows humor. Otherwise, you're just trying to cover up your own weaknesses by adopting a callous facade.

Posted by know-it-all | October 31, 2008 9:46 AM

@49 and others: You expect well-reasoned, behavior from a person you admit is mentally deranged? Our language has so many words and phrases such as: not of sound mind, crazy, out of his/her mind, out of control, nuts, bonkers, psycho, *ad infinitum* and none of them define the individual thus labeled as thinking rationally, even when capable of fairly intricate planning. That's why it's called irrational behavior.

Posted by inkweary | October 31, 2008 9:52 AM

The clowns, the tough guys, and the other disrespectful douchebags on this forum would not be saying what they are saying if they had seen this happen. It doesn't make sense to pass judgement on the guy.

Posted by Micah | October 31, 2008 10:14 AM

i agree. i haven't read everyone's posts, but the first few made me very upset. I did not see it actually happen because I happened to take a different route than usual, but I did see the fire truck. There were so many students who saw it, and it was a tragedy. Maybe it wasn't the right thing for the man to do, but the point is that it has hurt many people in the UW community and i believe it should be treated with more respect.

Posted by UW student | November 1, 2008 1:38 AM

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