California teen sets self ablaze in 'fire challenge'

A Southern California teenage boy set himself on fire, encouraged by a new online fad known as the 'fire challenge.' The boy's injuries are not considered life threatening.

Authorities say a 16-year-old Southern California boy has suffered burns after setting himself on fire for an online dare.

The Orange County Register reports that investigators believe the teen was trying the "fire challenge" that has spread on social media.

Fire Capt. Larry Kurtz says the teen apparently placed nail polish remover on his chest and lit it Friday afternoon in his Santa Ana home.

Kurtz says the boy was taken to a hospital with first- and second-degree burns on his face, neck and hips but the injuries aren't considered life-threatening.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported recently, nnline videos show several people performing similar stunts before putting out the flames.

Beyond YouTube, news of the challenge is spreading via the #firechallenge hashtag on other social networks. Most of the recent posts using the hashtag are admonishing the practice, especially as more reports of injuries surface.

There are also reports from earlier in July that a young man died after participating in the challenge in Buffalo, New York.

This follows a line of dangerous challenges shared online, including the “cinnamon challenge” and one covered on this blog – the “neknominate” drinking game, which originated in the United Kingdom. It also echoes the mentality that fed the "Jackass" MTV series (2000-2002) and subsequent movies of crude, self-injuring stunts, intended as humor. MTV pulled the plug on the series after a critical campaign by Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Thankfully, the spread of awareness about these kinds of online challenges often leads to a decline in their popularity, especially as more people share videos of themselves and others suffering and critics chime in.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.