Updated: Yelm-area couple in critical condition after van exploded

Staff writersOctober 22, 2013 

UPDATE: A husband and wife from near Yelm were each in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle Wednesday with severe burns after their van exploded in the driveway of their trailer park in the 17000 block of 153rd Avenue.

Thurston County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Brady said the couple had tried to convert their van to run on gas vapor, and were testing the vehicle about 1:30 p.m. when the van exploded.

Investigation revealed that the husband had constructed an alternate fueling system for the van so that it captured gasoline vapors from a 55 gallon drum and sent the vapors via tubing into the van's engine, Brady said.

"Obviously, we wouldn't recommend this without some serious know-how and the right parts and stuff," Brady said. "It's not something that's well advised."

The wife, 30, and the husband, 59, were both inside the van at the time of the explosion, but were able to exit the vehicle, Brady said. A neighbor drove the couple to help them get medical assistance, and a Yelm police officer later assisted them, Brady said.

It is unclear at his time what caused the system to ignite, Brady said. The van was completely burnt and minor damage occurred to a nearby trailer from the heat. No one else was injured n the explosion.

PREVIOUS STORY: A man and a woman were injured when a van exploded in a trailer park in the 17000 block of 153rd Avenue near Yelm, Thurston County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Brady said Tuesday.

A 55-gallon drum of gas in the back of the van exploded. Investigators weren’t sure why it exploded, or how much gas was in the drum.

The two victims suffered “pretty serious burns” and were unable to speak to detectives due to the medical treatment they were receiving, Brady said.

The man and the woman were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The incident began with a report of an accident followed by an explosion in a trailer park near Yelm at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Thurston County dispatcher.

lpemberton@theolympian.com

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