Thursday, August 13, 2009
Aug 13 05:57 PM US/Eastern
By MATT SEDENSKY
Associated Press Writer
MIAMI (AP) - A woman set herself on fire at a Miami mall Thursday, then walked around engulfed in flames as shocked shoppers watched, authorities said.
Two men and a woman who tried to help her were hurt, but not badly.
The 43-year-old woman, whose name was not released, doused herself with a flammable liquid at the Mall of the Americas, said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Arnold Piedrahita. She had third-degree burns over 75 percent of her body and was found conscious in a parking lot. Authorities do not know why she set herself on fire.
She was air-lifted to a hospital.
Witnesses said she was in a clothing store called Savage Boutique when it happened. Jose Morales, 24, said he was about to pay for earrings for his girlfriend at a nearby kiosk when he heard screams and thought someone had fallen.
When he turned around, he saw the blaze and realized someone was within it.
"This woman is just walking like this, super slow, completely on fire," Morales said, his arms stretched out at his side to show what the woman looked like as she walked out of the store. "You couldn't see nothing but fire."
Morales said witnesses used two fire extinguishers on the woman, who was on fire about two-and-a-half minutes. All of her clothes except her underwear disappeared into ashes.
After the fire was out, Morales said, the woman walked out of the mall and into the parking lot.
The two men injured helping her were treated at the scene while the woman who helped was taken to a hospital.
The mall remained closed as of late afternoon.
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