BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – A man used flammable liquid to light himself on fire, apparently to protest a San Joaquin Valley school district's decision to change the names of winter and spring breaks to Christmas and Easter vacation.
The man, who was not immediately identified, on Friday also set fire to a Christmas tree, an American flag and a revolutionary flag replica, said Fire Captain Garth Milam.
Seeing the flames, Sheriff's Deputy Lance Ferguson grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the man.
Flames were devouring a Christmas tree next to the Liberty Bell, where public events and demonstrations are common.
Beside the tree the man stood with an American flag draped around his shoulders and a red gas can over his head.
Seeing the deputy, the man poured the liquid over his head. He quickly burst into flames when the fumes from the gas met the flames from the tree.
The deputy ordered the man to drop to the ground as he and a parole agent sprayed him with fire extinguishers.
"The man stood there like this," the deputy said with his arms across his chest and his head bent down, "Saying no, no, no."
The man suffered first degree burns on his shoulders and arms, Milam said.
Kern County Sheriff's Deputy John Leyendecker said the man had a sign that read: "(expletive) the religious establishment and KHSD."