Burn victim: Don't do 'Fire Challenge'

By Heather Leigh, Mobile journalist, hleigh@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 04:33:50 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 06 2014 04:45:11 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Dwight Johnson has a message for kids taking part in the "Fire Challenge:" Don't do it.

Nearly two years ago, Johnson was severely burned head-to-toe in an accidental fire. Now he deals with the consequences every day.

What kids are doing now is no accident. The "Fire Challenge" involves them posting videos online and on social media of them being doused in alcohol and intentionally lighting their bodies on fire.

Johnson (pictured below) wants others to know they shouldn't do that because they could be dealing with the consequences for the rest of their lives, or worse, they could die.

It was Oct. 7, 2012, a football Sunday, and Johnson decided it'd be a perfect day to fire up the grill.

"I'll never forget that day as long as I live," he said.

Johnson said he ran out of coal starter and decided to use denatured alcohol.

"I'm scrubbing the grill, and when I put the stuff on it, you know how the fire jumps, it hits that container, and the container blows up all over me," Johnson said. "I'm on fire from head to foot."

He tried to stop, drop and roll, but when the fire didn't go out, a neighbor noticed what was going on, ran over and quickly smothered his body with the outside door mat.

Johnson said recovery has been expensive. A special glove he wears cost him $600, and the medication is never ending, not to mention the pain he deals with every day.

"I had a trach in my throat, a feeding tube up my nose," Johnson said. "I was in bed for like five and a half months. So when you get out, you got to learn how to walk all over again. I'm messed up for the rest of my life."

That's why he can't understand why anyone would intentionally set themselves on fire.

"I don't know what I feel, because it's crazy," Johnson said.

He said his will to live got him through, and now he hopes to deter people from doing something they'll definitely regret.

"I plead with you, I beg you: Don't try nothing like that," Johnson said. "You're going to pay for it forever. It might be a child prank now, but it's going to be real dangerous."

Johnson said he has to drink three quarts of water a day just to keep his skin hydrated. He said his life will never be the same, and he seriously hopes people will stop risking their lives for a deadly thrill.