Archive for Sunday, December 24, 2006

Man sets himself on fire to protest religious names

December 24, 2006

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— A man set 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 unidentified man used flammable liquid to light himself on fire Friday and also set fire to a Christmas tree, an American flag and a revolutionary flag replica, said Fire Captain Garth Milam.

Kern County Sheriff's Deputy John Leyendecker said the man had a sign that read: "(expletive) the religious establishment and KHSD."

The Kern High School Board of Trustees voted Thursday to change the names of winter and spring breaks.

The Christmas tree was ablaze when Sheriff's Deputy Lance Ferguson grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the man. 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 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.

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