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Originally published Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Man sets himself on fire at UW

A former University of Washington staff member who set himself on fire in the campus' Red Square this afternoon has died.

Seattle Times staff reporters

A 61-year-old man who set himself on fire in the center of Red Square at the University of Washington today died of his injuries at Harborview Medical Center, according to police.

UW police said the man was a former staff member, but did not release his name or a possible motive for his apparent suicide.

According to police, the man doused himself with gasoline and set himself ablaze in the center of the Red Square around 1 p.m.

He was taken to the hospital with second and third-degree burns, said Ralph Robinson, UW Police Department assistant chief.

Red Square, or Central Plaza, was evacuated and closed after the incident, but police said the campus was otherwise safe and classes continued as usual.

Student Jacob Olson said several witnesses told him they became aware of the incident when another person ran into the library looking for a fire extinguisher and saying that a man was on fire.

Robinson said the man was "engulfed" with flames before witnesses and police officers put out the flames with fire extinguishers.

UW police officer Anthony Stewart said he talked with the panicked victim — trying to calm him down — before medics arrived.

A lab apron and goggles were lying on the ground near where the victim had been.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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