Yelm Man Dies In ‘Tragic’ Propane Stove Accident

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An 85-year-old man from Yelm died in a fire at his residence in the 17700 block of Vine Lane Southeast at about 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Lt. Cameron Simper, the public information officer for the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO), called the fire an “absolutely … tragic accident” where “nothing criminal in nature occured.”

“Southeast Thurston Fire responded to the address on Vine (Lane Southeast in Yelm) due to reports of smoke seen coming from a garage at a residence,” Simper said.

TSCO doesn’t know when the fire started, because the man was home alone while his wife was away at a church event. The deceased man’s neighbors were the ones to call the fire department after they saw the flames through a garage vent.

“When the fire department arrived, they were knocking on the door and didn’t get an answer at the door,” Simper said. “Due to the smoke seen coming out of the garage, though, they were concerned and they forced entry into the residence and made entry into the garage.”

Once inside, they observed flames, but extinguished them quickly, revealing the man’s body, Simper said.

At this point in the investigation, Simper said it appears the man died because of the flames and smoke inhalation.

The fire originated from a propane fire pit.

“He was home alone in the garage and had a propane burn-pit that he operated inside the garage that he would sit around out in the garage,” Simper said. “It appears that while he was lighting this propane stove that his clothing caught fire. He was unable to put the fire out.”

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