Person sets self on fire outside Multnomah County Courthouse, witnesses rush to help

Person lights self on fire in Lownsdale Square - Photo from KATU photojournalist Corry Young

PORTLAND, Ore. – A person lit themselves on fire Tuesday afternoon in Lownsdale Square, the park located across from the Multnomah County Courthouse in downtown Portland.

The person is in the Oregon Burn Center at Emanuel Hospital; no word on their current condition.

Peter Stratacos and his business partner, John Anderson say they heard shouting in the square and when they looked over, they saw a fire in the middle of it.

“I look over that point and I saw people take their shirts off and trying to put it out that way, but it wasn't working too well. When Peter jumped out, I looked down and there was a whole bunch of water bottles at my feet,” said Anderson.

They rushed over to pour water over the flames and saw a transgender person at the center of it.

“This person had dreads, completely engulfed in flames. I looked around to see if someone else had started the fire or how this happened, but the first thing was getting the fire out,” said Stratacos.

The self-immolation was an apparent protest, Portland Fire & Rescue said, but officials did not expand on the reasons behind the act, not say what the person’s mental state was at the time.

“Towards the end, I asked him 'what's going on, what happened?' He said 'I’m homeless; I don't know what I'm going to do,” said Anderson. “It was pretty intense.”

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