Investigators suspect explosion was suicide attempt
Steamboat Springs — Investigators think a man was trying to take his own life when he blew up the RV he was living in at Eagle Soaring RV Park west of Steamboat Springs.
Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch said the 54-year-old man came to the area recently from Florida and had been staying at the RV park since May 8. His wife had been staying in the Steamboat area and was not at the RV park when the explosion occurred about 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Former Routt County Sheriff John Warner helps manage the RV park and was sitting outside with his wife when they heard and felt the explosion.
Warner turned off propane tanks before pulling the man from the blaze.
“It’s a pretty awesome thing he did,” Birch said. “He just kicked into action and pulled this guy out from the rubble.”
An off-duty firefighter who lives in the area and a border patrol agent staying at the campsite helped Warner.
Two dogs died in the explosion.
The man was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center and flown to University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora with burn injuries Tuesday night. He was listed in stable condition Wednesday. Birch said there was no indication the man had other self-inflicted injuries.
Birch said that, on the way to YVMC, the man told firefighters he had tried to commit suicide.
Firefighters and investigators kept their distance from the fire, because they did not know if there were other explosives in the camper or the man’s nearby truck.
The Jefferson County Bomb Squad and a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent arrived Wednesday morning to help with the investigation. Birch said the man described a specific compound he used to make the explosive device, but Birch did not want to release more information until it had been positively identified.
Investigators and firefighters were scouring the area Wednesday for evidence, which was scattered up to 200 yards from the blast.
“Fortunately, the RV park wasn’t full,” Birch said.
No other injuries were reported, and no one had reported damage to their campers.
Investigators obtained search warrants Wednesday morning before searching the truck and what remained of the camper.
The man could face a felony arson charge.
“This appears to be an intentional act,” Birch said.
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