Safety experts warn against 'fire challenge'


DETROIT – It's a challenge that has teenagers across the country intentionally setting themselves on fire.

A quick online search by the Local 4 Defenders pulls up hundreds of "fire challenge" videos.

Participants pour rubbing alcohol on parts of their bodies and then ignite it to see how long they can handle the pain.

The consequences have already proved dangerous and deadly.

In Florida, 11-year-old Derrick Robinson suffered second-degree burns when he did the challenge.

He recorded this message from his hospital bed: "I'd like to thank the Lord for saving me. And I'd like to thank ya'll for praying for me."

Robinson's mother said her son was just trying to copy a video he saw online.


In Texas, a 14-year-old used a match to light his stomach on fire in his home's bathroom. His sister used her hands to put out the flames.

"It's not fun, it's not funny, it's not cute. I don't understand why they would want to do it. Now, he's has a second-degree burn and he's in pain," the teen's mother told local reporters.

Fire safety experts have been posting warnings in hopes of stopping the dangerous game.

Veteran fire investigator Michael Roarty told the Defenders he's seen real damage be done.

"There's an extreme risk. When you pour an ignitable liquid accelerant on your body, and the key word is accelerant, that accelerant is there to accelerate the spread of the fire," Roarty said. "When you light these vapors on fire, the surface of the vapors is somewhere about 800 degrees Fahrenheit.  Your skin begins to burn very badly at like 135 degrees Fahrenheit."


Yet, teenagers are still playing with fire.

Child psychologist Dr. Harvey Rosenstock said it's all about getting attention from people they don't even know online.

"Unfortunately, you get people to view it, and then with the phenomenon of scale, somebody else wants to do it. They say, ‘I can do what this guy can do and I can even up the ante,'" Rosenstock said.

Facebook has said all fire challenge videos will be pulled down, but videos are still viewable on YouTube.com and Twitter.