One dead after van intentionally set on fire at Salt Lake City gas station

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-30 19:23:24-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- An individual has died after a vehicle fire at a gas station in Salt Lake City Saturday afternoon, and fire department officials have confirmed at this point it appears the individual intentionally set a van ablaze.

The fire broke out at a Flying J gas station in the area of 850 West and 2100 South in Salt Lake City just before 4 p.m.

Jasen Asay, Salt Lake City Fire Department, said his crews on scene report that their initial investigation indicates an individual purchased gasoline at the station, poured gas inside the van, got into the van, and then set it on fire.

FOX 13 News does not generally report on incidents of apparent suicide unless there is a greater impact to the public, such as a fire at a gas station.

“We got a call that there was a vehicle on fire, and possibly a male inside the vehicle," said Lt. Michael Hatch of the Salt Lake City Fire Department. "Fire and police responded, fire department put out the fire, and we’re investigating this as an apparent suicide… but we’re leaving it open because we got to figure out exactly what happened.”

Asay said the fire has been extinguished and the flames did not spread to any other vehicles or structures. There were no reports of injury beyond the deceased.

A witness tells FOX 13 News he and about 10 to 15 other people were evacuated from the gas station and a nearby Denny's restaurant when the fire broke out, however fire officials said there was never an official order for people to evacuate, as they did not think such action was necessary as the fire was contained.

“The initial ignition, when the van caught on fire, it blew out the windows on the van," Hatch said. "And a witness ran over and tried to put the fire out with some snow, but obviously was not able to do that.”

The Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition offers resources to those who are struggling with mental health issues or who find themselves in crisis. Click here or call the 24-hour hotline at  1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you know is in need of help.