Two Airlifted After Van Explodes Near Yelm

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Two people were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center with burn injuries Tuesday after their van reportedly exploded in the Lake Lawrence area of Yelm.

According to a release from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, a husband and wife were severely burned when the van they were in exploded in a trailer park in the 17100 block of Lake Lawrence around 2 p.m.

According to Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ray Brady, the man was trying to implement a home-made fuel-conversion system for his van, involving a 55-gallon drum of gasoline.

According to the release, the system “captured gasoline vapors from … (the drum) and then sent the vapors via tubing into the engine.”

“Obviously something went wrong … and caused this explosion that occurred,” Brady said.

The couple initially opted to drive themselves into Yelm to seek medical attention, but a neighbor offered to drive them. Once in Yelm, they were stopped by police and met by medics.

The man, 59, and woman, 30, are in critical condition with severe burns.

The woman was airlifted by a helicopter that landed in the football field at Yelm High School to Harborview. The man was transported by ambulance to St. Peter Hospital in Olympia and then airlifted to Harborview.

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