At least 26 people were hurt, six critically, when a man set himself afire Friday inside a Melbourne, Australia-area bank, authorities said.
Police arrested the man, who was heard screaming that the bank wouldn’t give him money for food. Three children, one of them a toddler, reportedly were among the injured. Police did not identify the man but said he is 21 years old.
Commonwealth Bank fire in Springvale. Looks like an explosion? pic.twitter.com/rAYZGAgsC7— Solf (@sunprawn) November 18, 2016
Eyewitness Ashley Atkin-Fone described the horrific scene in gruesome detail: “This kid comes running out, screaming his head off, with skin hanging off everywhere.”
Atkin-Fone tried to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher, and ran into the bank. “I was … inside choking and just shouting, ‘Is anybody inside?’”
A spokesman for the Country Fire Authority, Paul Carrigg, said it was “amazing” that nobody died, The Guardian reported. “Very lucky, and it was a combined effort, I think, by civilians, witnesses who were in attendance, and the emergency services response was fantastic,” he said.
The incident happened around 11:30 a.m. local time at a branch of the Commonwealth Bank in the suburb of Springvale. Firefighters got the flames under control within an hour.
The attacker “had with him some sort of accelerant. He walked into the bank and he lit that accelerant, which caused some sort of fire. … He set himself alight with that fire,” Jackie Poida of the Victoria Police told the BBC.
The suspect reportedly was in critical condition and under police surveillance. The bank branch remained closed for the rest of the day.