Update, Saturday The man has now died. Police will use DNA and dental records to identify him.
Original A man was on fire at the National Mall on Friday afternoon just before 4:30 p.m., according to multiple witnesses and authorities speaking to the media. The incident was at 7th and Jefferson, and the person at the center of the incident is reportedly alive and breathing, but with "life threatening" injuries. Many early reports, some citing witnesses, say that the man set himself on fire, but that is unconfirmed at this time. We'll add more as it comes in on this developing story.
The Associated Press spoke to a witness who described the following series of events:
Katy Scheflen says she was walking along the Mall when she saw a man by himself pick up a can of gasoline and empty its contents on his head before setting himself ablaze.
She says passing joggers took off their shirts to help douse the flames.
Unnamed witnesses speaking to NBC Washington had similar accounts. A witness speaking to CNN saw part of the incident, as well:
Adam Stifel saw part of the incident as he was running."I saw a man sitting in flames," Stifel told CNN. "He had already doused himself in gasoline, I believe." Stifel said five or six people used their shirts to pat out the fire. He said he saw a red gasoline canister near the man.
The man was reportedly airlifted from the scene. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told the Washington City Paper that "we have a report of a man on fire," adding, "he is conscious and breathing. MPD is on the scene." The Fire Department described the man's injuries to the Washington Post as "life threatening." Speaking shortly after the incident, the Fire Department official said that there was "no indication on our end of what caused the fire, the only thing we can pretty much comment on is we were dispatched to the call and responded to it." Lt. Pamela Smith of the U.S. Park Police told the AP that she was "not aware of any signage or any articulation of any causes" from the as-yet unnamed man involved in the incident.
There were a number of partial witnesses to the incident:
DC police and passerby help man who set himself on fire on the Mall this afternoon pic.twitter.com/XTZc6WaaA2— Vanessa Sink (@LiveMusicGirl) October 4, 2013
Just witnessed the craziest thing ever... a man set himself on fire and danced down the Mall. #horrifying— Vanessa Sink (@LiveMusicGirl) October 4, 2013
My mom was near the guy who lit himself on fire on the Mall. Says these guys put it out with their shirts pic.twitter.com/xJToYEurqI— Justin Sink (@JTSTheHill) October 4, 2013
Holy shit, someone just lit himself on fire in the middle of the National Mall pic.twitter.com/qzGgl9OuUo— Ellie Hess (@Smellie03) October 4, 2013
Other early reports cited information from the Metro police:
RT @Chris_Moody: DC Police tell me that the man who was on fire on the National Mall is conscious and breathing. Call came in at 4:24 PM.— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) October 4, 2013
Park Police are lead agency on National Mall scene.— Benjamin R. Freed (@brfreed) October 4, 2013