(USA TODAY) - A man set himself on fire Friday afternoon on the National Mall while facing the U.S. Capitol, witnesses reported.
The unidentified man was taken to the hospital with "life threatening injuries," a D.C. Fire Department spokesman told The Washington Post. Firefighters were called at 4:24 p.m. ET and arrived three minutes later at Seventh Street and Jefferson Drive, near the Air and Space Museum.
Witnesses told the Post and other news outlets that several joggers took off their shirts to extinguish the flames. One witness said the man thanked the runners who intervened.
The man was "conscious and breathing" when firefighters arrived, a D.C. police spokeswoman told the paper.
Katy Scheflen, who was walking through the Mall, said the man emptied a red container on himself and then set himself on fire, the Associated Press reported.
Nicole Didyk, who was jogging past, told the Post that one of the rescuers told her the man was facing the Capitol when he set himself alight. She said the man's "face and arms were charred" and the ground around him was on fire.
A woman walking on the Mall said the air "smelled strongly of burning flesh."
U.S. Park Police closed an area of the mall at Seventh Street between Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW.