Homeless person in Portland reads manifesto, sets themselves on fire

A person lit themselves on fire at a park in Portland Tuesday afternoon after reading from a paper on mental health and homelessness, The Oregonian reported.

Scot Baughman, a witness who intervened, likened the scene to the Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire to protest the Vietnam War.

The scene unfolded across the street from the Multnomah County Courthouse in Downtown Portland at Lownsdale Square.

Witness accounts differ on the gender of the person, but several people told KATU the person was “transgender.”

Donna Maxey, another witness, said she saw a “woman” enter the park, with dreads, and with crutches. She said the person sat down on a park bench and began reading from some papers about "homelessness and mental health issues."

The person then screamed before getting out “a gallon bottle and poured what looked like dirty water over” their head, Maxey said. “All of a sudden I saw a blue lighter.”

Baughman said he saw a person engulfed in flames and took his shirt off to try to put the fire out. Several other people in the park tried to help by using their shirts and emptying their water bottles on the flames, KATU reported.

When fire officials arrived, Baughman said the person’s head was entirely on fire. A court security officer put the flames out with a fire extinguisher, KOIN reported.

The majority of the person’s body was reportedly burned. The person was transferred to a hospital by ambulance.

“Yeah it was pretty bad. Another couple of seconds it wouldn’t have gone too well,” said John Anderson, another witness who intervened.

Yeah it was pretty bad. Another couple of seconds it wouldn’t have gone too well.

— John Anderson

The person is recovering at the Oregon Burn Center at Emmanuel Hospital, KOIN reported. The exact motivations are unknown.