YouTube 'Fire Challenge' Burns 40% of Boy's Body

Youngsters have been taking part in dangerous online stunt for years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2016 12:44 PM CDT

A 12-year-old boy from Queens, NY, suffered third-degree burns on more than 40% of his body after trying to simulate a YouTube challenge in his bathtub Tuesday night, Gothamist reports. The horrifying-sounding "fire challenge" that the unnamed preteen tried goes basically like this, per CBS New York: Pour a flammable substance like rubbing alcohol on your body, purposely light yourself on fire, and then put out the flames before you're badly hurt, followed by a post on social media showing off your attempt. The boy in this case apparently wasn't able to turn the shower on to put out the fire, and he ran out of the bathroom and outside his home, where neighbors helped douse the fire; a babysitter called 911, the New York Daily News notes. He was transported to the burn unit at a Nassau County hospital, where he's in critical condition but expected to survive, the New York Post notes.

The boy's initial story to first responders—who sources tell the Daily News witnessed skin peeling off of his chest when they arrived—was that he had been burned in an oven accident. Now that the true story has emerged, an ER doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital says it may take the boy years to fully recover from his injuries. "The burns penetrate the skin and soft tissue and then involve the muscle," he tells CBS. "As they penetrate, you lose fluid, causing dehydration, and it causes all these inflammatory markers that drop your blood pressure and can put you into shock." The fire challenge, similar to other dangerous viral dares (read: the cinnamon challenge) that young people often take part in for a brief moment of Internet celebrity, appears to have been circulating online since at least 2014, per reports. "Just to be on YouTube—really?" a local resident tells CBS. "It's sad that this is what it's come to now." (More YouTube stories.)

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