Posted by: bkivey | 24 January 2011

The Burning Van of Fire

Whatever difficulties you may have faced last week, I’m pretty sure they don’t compare to the problems faced by these folks. While not Darwin Award (link on right) winners, they can certainly be considered at-risk survivors.

BELLEVUE, Washington — A fire that engulfed a van in Bellevue on Wednesday was caused by the passengers filling up the van with gas while it was being driving, Bellevue police investigators said.

The fire burned three people in the van and sent them to Harborview.

Investigators said they spoke to the female victim, who was able to explain the events leading up to the explosion.

The woman said she and her two friends had bought gas at a Factoria gas station, but were having trouble keeping the van running. She said they didn’t have a gas can, so they filled an open bucket with two gallons of gas and put it in the van.

The engine cowling — a piece of metal that covered the engine and which was located between the two front seats of the van — had been removed, the woman said. The passengers used a water bottle to transfer gas from the bucket directly into the carburetor in order to keep the engine running.

The van was filled with gas fumes as the three drove east on Kamber Road, the woman said. The van stalled just before 145 Place Southeast and as the driver tried to restart the van, it exploded.

The van became fully engulfed in flames and started rolling backward, investigators said.

Witnesses said the woman jumped out of the back of the van and fell to the ground, on fire, and that the van rolled over her leg.

 Investigators said the two men jumped out of the van and ran toward the gas station.

 All three people were on fire and “desperately trying to put it out,” investigators said.

 One man made it to the gas station and tried to douse himself with water.

The three people were taken to Harborview Medical Center, where they remained on Thursday. Their names have not been released, but investigators said they were Bellevue residents.

From the photos accompanying the story, the van appears to be a ’70’s General Motors product. It takes no great intellectual leap to posit that even now the ambulance-chasers are considering a lawsuit against GM, and possibly the gas station unfortunate enough to sell these people gasoline, because there wasn’t a label in the van warning against transferring fuel to the engine via the carburetor while the vehicle was in operation.

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