Originally published July 24 2012
21 people severely burned in Tony Robbins fire walking event gone wrong
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) There are certain behaviors and actions that should be avoided just because it's common knowledge they are potentially harmful to you. Some of those would include juggling hand grenades, playing in traffic, blow-drying your hair in the shower and of course, standing in a field during a thunderstorm holding a long metal rod.
Oh, and add walking on hot coals to that list too.
At least, we thought the latter example was common knowledge, but apparently we were wrong.
Consider: Nearly two dozen people who recently participated in a Tony Robbins "motivational" event were treated for burns after they walked across hot coals.
Granted, some of the 21 people who were burned by the incredibly senseless act said they were warned that, hey, walking on coals could be just a little bit dangerous.
Several second- and third-degree burns later, they finally became believers.
Look to the power within...
Reports said some 6,000 people who attended the event walked from the San Jose Convention Center to a local Park Avenue venue for what Robbins' Web site dubbed the "Firewalk Experience."
There, hot coals were loaded into a dozen separate 10-foot-long, two-and-a-half-foot-wide lanes on the grass.
Around 11:30 p.m. local time, attendees began walking over them, which took about 90 minutes, according to San Jose Fire Dept. Capt. Reggie Williams, whose department's paramedics treated some of the participants.
One participant, Sahar Madani, told local TV station KTVU that all participants in Robbins' "Unleash the Power Within" event were told walking on white-hot coals would be dangerous but then implied they would be okay if they just shifted their mental focus.
"Get your focus and attention away from that and look into the power within yourself and just focus on walking through the fire," Madani told the station.
Another participant, Julia Wilson, told the TV station, "He tells us to say, 'Cool moss, cool moss, cool moss,' and not look down and it's amazing what your mind can do when you get it in the right state."
Maybe the coals weren't really all that hot, right? Well, organizers of the event said they were between 1,200 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (water boils at 212 degrees, for a reference).
Some of the participants recalled hearing shrieks of pain when others apparently lost their focus and were burned.
"I heard wails of pain, screams of agony," witness Jonathan Correll, 25, told the San Jose Mercury News. He described one woman's pain as "horrific."
"It was people seriously hurting, like they were being tortured," he told the paper. "First one person, then a couple minutes later another one, and there was just a line of people walking on that fire. It was just bizarre, man."
Correll, a local college student, said he saw between 10 and 15 people being treated. He said he was videotaping the scene until an event staffer told him to ditch the camera.
The ultimate motivator?
Another participant, Henry Guasch, 19, is a Robbins firewalking veteran.
"Overcoming something like that, it's a breakthrough," he said, noting that he had done the firewalking thing several months earlier at a previous Robbins event. Then, he said, he developed blisters on his feet but didn't need treatment.
Fire department officials said emergency medical personnel were on hand for the event and that Robbins had gotten the proper permit before holding it.
But he seemed unfazed by the injuries. His organization said they'd look into ways to make the firewalking "safer" if possible, but from the outside looking in, that doesn't appear likely.
"We have been safely providing this experience for more than three decades, and always under the supervision of medical personnel," said the statement.
In a classic understatement, Williams, the fire captain, said his department wishes to "discourage people from walking over hot coals."
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