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Man Lights Self on Fire Near White House Ellipse

The Secret Service says the man is getting first aid

What to Know

  • Passersby expressed alarm on social media after seeing a large plume of smoke
  • No information on his condition or motive has been released

A man set himself ablaze Wednesday on the grounds of the White House Ellipse, the U.S. Secret Service says.

Passersby expressed alarm on social media after seeing a large plume of smoke billowing from a grassy area at 15th and Constitution Avenue Northwest, near a security checkpoint.

Police say the man lit himself on fire about 12:20 p.m. Secret Service, National Park Service and U.S. Park Police personnel responded to the scene.

"Like a torch, his whole body was on fire," said witness X. "He was just walking like he was a zombie or something. Just straight, he wasn't running and screaming or anything. He was walking straight. Then they put the extinguisher on him and put his [fire] out and that's it."

The man was taken to a local hospital for treatment, U.S. Park Police said. No information on his condition or motive has been released.

Alina Berzins, 17, said she and her family were sightseeing when they saw the man running and covered in flames.

"We were just looking at the White House to take pictures and he just came out of nowhere," she said.

The White House and surrounding grounds often see security-related disturbances. In April, a man sitting in an electric scooter lit his jacket on fire in front of the White House.

Rima Abdelkader and Derrick Ward contributed to this report.

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