A Santa Barbara teen badly burned Saturday in his backyard was taking part in the “fire challenge,” his classmates said this week.
Participants of the dangerous game fanned by social media douse themselves in rubbing alcohol, gasoline, or some other accelerant and light themselves on fire before jumping in a pool or shower to extinguish the flames.
The dare game gained popularity last summer when a number of people filmed their attempts and posted the footage to YouTube. Some were severely injured, and fire officials across the country have condemned the stunt as extremely unsafe and ill-advised.
At around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, city firefighters were called to the 700 block of California Street and found the 14-year-old Santa Barbara Junior High School student suffering from second-degree burns to his chest, stomach, back, hands, and face. He was transported to Cottage Hospital in critical condition and is now reportedly being cared for at Cedars Sinia Medical Center in Los Angeles.
According to sources familiar with details of the incident, the teen, accompanied by two friends, lit himself on fire then tried to run to his yard’s pool, but he fell as the smoke and flames overwhelmed him. His mother saw some of the commotion from inside their house and called 9-1-1.
While fire officials initially granted media interviews about the incident, they have since declined to comment and are forwarding all press questions to the District Attorney’s Office. KEYT was the first to report on this weekend’s emergency response.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley confirmed her office is investigating the matter. She declined to offer much information on the review other than to say, “This is being investigated as part of our juvenile justice process.” Dudley also explained that, “Based upon the present state of the investigation, I am not considering filing any charges against any adults.”