Sunday, August 16, 2009

Savage Boutique Immolation [Update]

Updated on August 19, 2009:

A 42-year-old woman who set herself on fire at a Miami shopping mall died less than a week after the shocking scene, police said.

Cecilia E. Casals died Tuesday, August 18, 2009. Police say Casals covered herself in flammable liquid, set it ablaze and walked about until witnesses used two fire extinguishers to put out the flames.

Miami-Dade police wouldn't divulge any other details on August 19, 2009.

Authorities found Casals unconscious on August 13, 2009, with third-degree burns over 75 percent of her body, and airlifted her to a hospital. She was on fire about two-and-a-half minutes.

Court records show the woman had a history of mental illness and had been convicted on prescription drug trafficking charges, The Miami Herald reported. In October, Casals received probation in the drug case.

Earlier details...

A woman set herself on fire at a Miami mall on August 13, 2009, then walked around engulfed in flames as shocked shoppers watched. She started in a clothing store called Savage Boutique.

Two men and a woman who tried to help her were hurt, but not badly.

The 43-year-old woman, whose name was not released, doused herself with a flammable liquid at the Mall of the Americas in Florida, said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Arnold Piedrahita. The suicidal woman had third-degree burns over 75 percent of her body and was found conscious in a parking lot. Authorities do not know why she set herself on fire.

She was air-lifted to a hospital.

Jose Morales, 24, said he was about to pay for earrings for his girlfriend at a nearby kiosk when he heard screams and thought someone had fallen. When he turned around, he saw the blaze and realized someone was within it.

"This woman is just walking like this, super slow, completely on fire," Morales said, his arms stretched out at his side to show what the woman looked like as she walked out of the store. "You couldn't see nothing but fire."

Morales said witnesses used two fire extinguishers on the woman, who was on fire about two-and-a-half minutes. All of her clothes except her underwear disappeared into ashes.

After the fire was out, Morales said, the woman walked out of the mall and into the parking lot.

The two men injured helping her were treated at the scene while the woman who helped was taken to a hospital.

The mall remained closed as of late afternoon.

Other recent cases of self-immolation:

• In June, a man Brandon, Fla., tried to kill himself by dousing himself with gasoline and then lighting himself on fire. The 67-year old-man was taken to a Tampa hospital for treatment. He survived.

• In February, a WalMart employee in Chicago set himself on fire outside the store where he worked. Larry Graziano, 58, used lighter fluid. Bystanders tried to help, but Graziano fought them off. He died of his injuries.

• In 2004, a 34-year-old Pahokee, Flordia, man was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital after he slashed his wife with a knife and then set himself on fire.

The day before the latest Florida incident, on Wednesday, August 12, 2009, police were called to a Halifax, Nova Scotia hospital building after a man doused himself in gasoline, threatening to set himself on fire.

Police say they found the man, 29, in the lobby of the Centennial Building of the QEII with two lighters.

There were no injuries, the gas-soaked man was arrested without incident, and police say no criminal charges are anticipated.

Thanks for the Mall of the Americas tip from SMiles Lewis.

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