Man believed to have set himself on fire on the Mall in Washingt - WSMV Channel 4

Man believed to have set himself on fire on the Mall in Washington

Posted: Updated:
By M. Alex Johnson, Staff Writer, NBC News

Passersby on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., ripped off their shirts to help extinguish the flames after a man apparently set himself on fire Friday, witnesses and authorities said.

Washington D.C. Fire spokesman Tim Wilson told NBC News the unidentified man was suffering from life-threatening injuries when he was flown by helicopter to Washington Medical Center. Mitch Smith of the the National Park Police told Reuters he was in critical condition.

The incident, which was reported at 4:24 p.m. ET, occurred on Seventh Street Southwest near the National Air and Space Museum, the Park Police said.

Witnesses told several media organizations, including NBC Washington, that they saw the man pour gasoline on himself from a red canister and then set himself ablaze. There was a red plastic fuel container near where the incident happened, Reuters reported.

Nearby joggers stopped and ripped off their shirts to smother the flames, NBC Washington reported.

Nicole Didyk, an environmental engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration, told Reuters she was out for a run when she saw spotted a man with small flames on him.

"There were five gentlemen hitting him with their T-shirts," Nicole Didyk, an environmental engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration, told Reuters. "When he fell over his arms were all white. He was burned really bad."

She said the man thanked people who helped put the fire out.

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