Man in critical condition after being engulfed in flames

Reuters
Vanessa Sink handout photo shows first responders and people assisting a man who apparently set himself on fire at the National Mall in Washington
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First responders and people assist a man who apparently set himself on fire at the National Mall in Washington in this October 4, 2013 handout photo by Vanessa Sink. The man was rushed to a local hospital, officials said, and was conscious and breathing when he was taken to the hospital. REUTERS/Vanessa Sink/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST HEALTH SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION WILL BE PROVIDED SEPARATELY

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A man went up in flames in the middle of the National Mall on Friday before bystanders extinguished the fire and he was rushed to a hospital, police and witnesses said.

Initial reports indicated the man set himself on fire, though it could not yet be confirmed, police spokesman Hugh Carew said.

The man was hospitalized in critical condition, Mitch Smith of the National Park Police told Reuters.

Police responded to an emergency call about a fire shortly before 4:30 p.m. on the Mall lined by Washington's famed Smithsonian museums, authorities said.

"Officers and citizens extinguished the flames," Smith said.

Nicole Didyk, an environmental engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration, told Reuters she was out for a run when she saw spotted a man with small flames on him.

"He was the only one in the middle of the mall," she said. "There were five gentlemen hitting him with their T-shirts. When he fell over his arms were all white. He was burnt really bad."

The man thanked people who helped put the fire out, Didyk said.

She said the incident occurred on the grassy part of the Mall several blocks from the Capitol grounds, where a day earlier a car chase that began near the White House ended in a fatal shooting.

Carew said the man was still conscious and breathing when he was taken to the hospital.

There was a red plastic gas cannister on the grass near where the man had been.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz, Patricia Zengerle, Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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