12-year-old Detroit girl severely burned doing online 'fire challenge'

Timiyah Landers facing years of recovery

DETROIT – A 12-year-old Detroit girl was hospitalized after she severely burned herself doing an online challenge.

Timiyah Landers was burned doing what's called the "fire challenge," and it stunned residents around Metro Detroit.

Brandi Owens said her daughter will live to be 13 years old, but it will be an excruciatingly painful road to get there.

"Mia" is on a ventilator at The Children's Hospital of Michigan with burns on more than 50 percent of her body. It happened when she competed in the fire challenge Friday with her friends.

"She was on fire," Owens said. "It's almost like someone threw gasoline on you and just set you on fire and you're just burning and running and it's just like a fireball."

Owens said she also got burned while she tried to tear the burning clothes off of her daughter.

Owens said she had talked to her children about safe internet practices and peer pressure, but on Friday, as the seventh-grader was making pancakes with her friends, the voices of her friends rang louder than the words of her mother.

"One of the girls had done it before, and she came to my daughter, like, 'It was fun,'" Owens said.

Emergency room Dr. Helene Tigchelaar said internet challenges with a plethora of ideas to maim and injure people for the sake of internet fame or making viral videos create more issues than they should.

"People are doing this," Tigchelaar said. "People are going to have their lives destroyed by this."

The fire challenge encourages people to douse themselves with accelerant and set themselves on fire.

"Burns are devastating, permanent, affect your life if you live," Tigchelaar said. "Many children with burns die because they spread rapidly."

Owens warned parents to dial deeply into what their children are watching and doing with friends.

"One of the concerns I have about talking about this is that we don't want copycat children doing things because they heard about them," Tigchelaar said. "I think sometimes just showing pictures of what can happen to someone who has a severe burn may be more helpful than just words."

"I'm disappointed," Owens said. "I'm very disappointed. The reason being because I talk to my kids and they know better."

Mia's recovery is expected to take years.

About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's married and the stepmother of three beautiful and brilliant daughters. Her personal philosophy in life, love and community is, "Do as much as you can possibly do, not as little as you can possibly get away with".

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.