Washington, DC – A man set himself on fire and ran across the lawn in front of the White House in flames on Wednesday afternoon (video below).
Numerous bystanders captured the bizarre and frightening scene on their cell phone cameras after the man set himself ablaze at about 12:20 p.m. on May 29 near 15th Street, NW and Constitution Avenue, NW, FOX News reported.
Video showed the man covered in flames as he ran across The Ellipse, a park located on the south side of the White House, in what some witnesses initially believed was a prank.
He started out running and then slowed down a few seconds later, eventually coming to a full stop, the video showed.
Then he stood still and let the flames engulf him.
The video showed that the man had been on fire for more than 30 seconds when a U.S. Park Police officer arrived on the scene with a fire extinguisher to put him out.
Within seconds, additional officers arrived on the scene to assist, the video showed.
“According to my daughter…she just saw a person that was on fire running across the White House lawn,” Krisjan Berzins tweeted. “Police and rescue have responded. They’re closing all surrounding streets right now.”
First responders were able to douse the man with fire extinguishers and then he was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, FOX News reported.
U.S. Park Police Sergeant Eduardo Delgado said the man’s condition was critical, but released no other details, The Washington Post reported.
Because The Ellipse is a national park, U.S. Park Police has assumed jurisdiction and control of the investigation.
Sgt. Delgado said investigators were working to determine what kind of accelerant the man had used to start the fire, according to The Washington Post.
The sergeant said police had not yet identified the man or his motive as of Wednesday evening.
Witness Alina Berzins told CNBC she was visiting the national mall when she saw the man burst into flames.
“Everybody was in shock,” Alina Berzins told CNBC. “I was in shock.”
This is the second time that someone has set themselves ablaze outside the White House in as many months.
In April, a man “operating an electric wheelchair-type scooter” set his jacket on fire as he sat along the north fence line of the White House, FOX News reported.
Watch the bizarre scene unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: