WASHINGTON – A man set himself afire Monday just outside a White House gate and repeatedly yelled "Allah Allah" after Secret Service (search) officers put out the flames and one held him facedown on the sidewalk.
U.S. Park Police (search) said the man was carrying a letter for President Bush. According to police investigators, the man talked with uniformed Secret Service officers at the northwest gate before pulling a lighter from his pocket and igniting his jacket.
Alan Etter, spokesman for the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said guards at the gate quickly extinguished the flames, and the man had second- and third-degree burns on about 30 percent of his body.
The man had burns to his head, back, arms and face but was conscious when medics took him to Washington Hospital Center (search), Etter said.
"I can confirm that there was an ignitable liquid present on the scene," Etter said.
White House doctors joined uniformed Secret Service personnel in administering first aid until the emergency service technicians arrived. They transported the 52-year-old man, who was not identified, to the burn unit of the hospital. Park Police said he was of Middle Eastern descent.
Lorie Lewis, a Secret Service spokeswoman, said the man "set himself on fire on Pennsylvania Avenue on the north side of the White House complex." That section of Pennsylvania Avenue was recently reopened to pedestrians after being closed for security.
Witnesses reported hearing screams and seeing a man in flames. The man's right trouser leg was burned.
Afterward, he lay on the sidewalk about 10 to 15 feet from his partially burned raincoat, attache case and various papers. A fire extinguisher was there as well. Secret Service personnel confiscated the man's items.
A Florida couple with a video camera taped the incident. John and Beverly Beers, tourists from Palm Beach, Fla., said they turned the tape over to the Secret Service. Authorities also interviewed the couple in Lafayette Park.
Jim Clarke of Burke, Va., was walking his dog when the incident occurred. He said Secret Service agents acted quickly and used an extinguisher to put out the flames.
In an unrelated incident, a different man jumped the fence on the north side of the White House grounds. Officers of the Secret Service's uniformed division apprehended the man shortly after 5 p.m., Lewis said. The incident is under investigation.