Colorado fire official warns parents of dangerous and deadly 'Fire Challenge'

Kids post videos online

DENVER - Colorado's top fire official is warning parents to be aware of a new, dangerous fad that is spreading across the country.  It’s called the "fire challenge."

"The 'challenge' encourages teens to douse themselves in an accelerant and then set fire to their bodies," said Paul Cooke, Director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

Cooke said teens videotape the process and post it on social media to "challenge the bravery of others and encourage participation."

Cooke warns that the challenge can have deadly consequences.

"At least one teen has died and several others have received serious burns from participating in this fad," he said. "Please educate your teen on the dangers of this activity and discourage them from participating in it."

WKYT-TV in Lexington, Kentucky interviewed one anonymous teenager who was treated for burns at University of Kentucky Hospital after attempting the "fire challenge."

"I just poured alcohol on it, and lit it, and it just automatically went and burst," the teen told the TV station.

Another teen, Michael Symonette of Crosby, Texas was also injured by the stunt, KHOU reported. Symonette's sister extinguished his flames, but not before they caused second-degree burns on his upper torso.

KHOU wrote that Symonette's mother told him to speak with other kids and tell them not to try this.

Brad Jackson, a psychologist in the Burn Unit at Children’s Hospital, told 7NEWS that they haven’t seen any victims recently, but they have in the past.

He said they’ve seen young people who have used a body spray on their hands, and then ignited it to see what would happen.

“It’s dangerous,” he said, “not just from the liquid burning but fumes can get trapped under clothes.”

Jackson said burn injuries are “incredibly painful and emotionally challenging.”

“There is a tremendous risk of infection,” he said.

When asked why kids might try something like that, Jackson replied, “There are a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s curiosity. Sometimes it’s more about thrill seeking.  Sometimes it’s really a cry for help.”

He said they want parents to on the lookout for common things in the home that might be used as an accelerant.  Examples might be nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, body spray.

“If you find those things are missing,” he said, “or you notice something is left out in a way you wouldn’t expect it to be, ask your kids more questions.”

He said if they’re looking for excitement, help them find other thrills that are not as much of a risk.

You can learn more about how to make your home safer and how to teach your kids to make better choices by visiting the Children’s Hospital website and clicking on the Burn Program.

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