[A] local family from the Cascade Shores housing development is in hot water for attempting to cremate a deceased relative on Scotts Flat Lake earlier today. The Barstad family recently suffered the loss of the family’s patriarch, Norman Barstad, who had lived with the family at their Spanish Lane home. The senior Barstad, who was 92 years old when he passed last week, requested that he receive a full Viking burial on the water. The family agreed to his last wish. Unfortunately, neither the Nevada County Health Department nor the Sheriff (who answered numerous 9-1-1 phone calls) seemed to think this was a good idea.
“Generally, the burning of bodies on an open and public water space is frowned upon,” said Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal in a prepared press statement. “And although there are no specific laws preventing a traditional Viking funeral on Scotts Flat, you can’t just set stuff on fire and send it off into the lake. Especially things as explosive as this.”
According to witnesses at the lake, the Barstad family gathered on the shore of the Nevada Irrigation District-owned lake around 11 AM on Friday. A large Dodge truck was towing what appeared to be a homemade pontoon boat. There is some debate about the make-up of the boat. Some said that it looked like a pile of logs; others said it looked like a re-purposed pontoon boat covered in kindling. What is not in question is what happened once it arrived in the middle of the lake and detonated.
“Yeah I was fishing,” said area handyman Hank Snow in a Scooper telephone interview. “I saw these guys lower this homemade pile of sticks down the boat launch ramp. I didn’t think much of it because, well, you know, this is Nevada County and I figured it was a back-to-nature type of thing. But when no one got on the boat and then about 200 yards out it exploded into flames, I was like, ‘holy [redacted]’ and I called 9-1-1. There was debris flying everywhere. I think I got hit with a detached finger.”
Jimmie Barstad, the son of the incinerated father who organized and built the cremation boat, said that he may have “overstocked” the vessel with too much gasoline and surplus illegal fireworks from the last 4th of July.
“Well, I wanted to make sure that it went off and worked,” said a somewhat proud and nervous Jimmie Barstad. “So I really stuffed that thing with everything flammable I could find. I just didn’t think gasoline would explode like that. I thought it would work more like the lighter fluid on my Weber grill. So the explosion scared the heck out of everyone. We’re still picking up pieces of Dad all over Cascade Shores.”
Instead of engulfing the senior Barstad in gentle and majestic Viking flames, the homemade barge violently exploded, sending bits of the senior Barstad flying over Cascade Shores. While some of the remains of Mr. Barstad immediately disintegrated from the intense explosion, some body parts landed around the development.
“I heard this explosion in the distance,” said Cascade Shores resident Sherry Smith. “I didn’t think much of it at first because we’re always hearing crap like that up here. You know, shotguns and whatnot. It wasn’t until I heard a thump on my metal roof. I went outside and right as I looked up, part of a leg slid down and whacked me in the head. It was pretty horrible.”
Other neighbors reported mostly wood debris in, on, and around their properties. One local family was struck by flying fragments while using their powerboat.
“We were out there with the family,” said Stacy Grant of Nevada City. “We had borrowed my Dad’s boat and were tooting around the lake. We didn’t see the explosion. We heard it. We were up by the dam, which was kinda far away. We still got showered with a bunch of sticks and things. I hope they were just things.”
As for the Barstad family, they have no regrets about giving their patriarch a proper Viking burial.
“It’s the Viking way,” said Jimmie Barstad describing the last wish of his now incinerated father. “We were happy to pay the fine to give Dad the burial he wanted. We knew there would be some risk, but this is Nevada County and we hoped that no one would notice or care that much. Turns out we were correct, except for the Sheriff and County officials. I hope to have my burial on Lake Tahoe someday. But that will be a trickier one for my kids to figure out. I’m glad they got to see their Grandpa leave us like this. It was a special day for everyone.”
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