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'Fire challenge' injuries begin to appear in Kansas

Medical professionals in Kansas are beginning to see patients who have injured themselves by taking the “fire challenge,” which has begun appearing on social media sites. It is the antithesis to the ice bucket challenge for ALS awareness.

Through videos appearing on sites such as Facebook and YouTube, teens are encouraged to record and post their clips as they pour accelerant on their bodies and light it on fire. 

John Melick, clinical care coordinator for the Via Christi Regional Burn Center, is surprised at the number of kids who are accepting the challenge and putting their lives at risk.

“If you put an accelerant on yourself, you’re not going to get it put out in time before you get a deep second or third degree burn,” says Melick, who has worked with burn patients for a decade. “Treatment could require surgery, a skin graft, a lengthy hospital stay and permanent scarring.”

News of injuries from the challenge is making headlines across the country.

One participant, a 14-year-old girl in Arkansas, did so after watching a video on Facebook. She poured nail polish on herself and lit it on fire. Hospitalized, she now suffers from second-degree burns on 27 percent of her body. 

An 11-year-old boy in Florida also saw a video on Facebook and poured alcohol on himself. He received second- and third-degree burns on 10 percent of his body after he set it on fire.

This infamous trend spurred a news release from the Kansas State Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen warning teenagers and parents against taking part in the challenge.

"The 'fire challenge' is a deadly game and fire is nothing to play with,” Jorgensen says in the release. “Too many times, I’ve seen first-hand the effects of fires and the lifetime scars that are left as a reminder of a dangerous incident.” 

Melick adds: “I see the ice bucket challenge everywhere and wonder what could be next. There are certain social media challenges you shouldn’t do and the ‘fire challenge’ is one of them.”

About Nate Goold

A Digital Specialist at Via Christi Health in Wichita, Kan., I am married with three young children, two girls and a boy. I enjoy traveling, technology, video production and health care.