It’s not a new phenomenon: Put kids together with aerosol sprays, matches or lighters, and you sometimes end up with homemade flamethrowers.
But there’s a dangerous new twist with Axe Body Spray, a cologne popular among young people. And it’s being whipped up by Internet videos.
Five Federal Way sixth-graders lit themselves or their clothes on fire by igniting body spray while at school over the last few weeks, school officials said Monday.
None was injured, and there was no damage. All were temporarily expelled, Federal Way School District spokeswoman Deb Stenberg said.
The incidents occurred between Feb. 23 and March 24 at Saghalie and Lakota middle schools. Two of the fires took place in a classroom; one was on a school bus. Superintendent Tom Murphy issued an alert to parents and guardians, warning of the danger.
Specifically, kids are using Axe Body Spray “to light themselves or their clothing on fire,” he wrote. “YouTube videos and news reports show the dangerous activity is being practiced across the world,” he added.
Murphy’s letter encouraged parents to monitor kids’ Internet use and to be aware the practice also is spread through old-fashioned word of mouth.
“Lighting a person on fire can lead to first, second- or third-degree burns as well as damage to property and criminal prosecution,” his message said. “Students who participate in this activity at school will be expelled.”
Four of the five sixth-graders were readmitted to school after attending Fire Stoppers intervention sessions through South King Fire & Rescue, Stenberg said. One student has yet to go through the training.
“Fortunately, there haven’t been any injuries,” said Kirsti Weaver, a fire department spokeswoman. “But these kids have been lucky.”
The phenomenon is spectacularly demonstrated in a number of Internet videos. One YouTube video shows laughing kids setting their forearms afire with the alcohol-infused spray, creating an aurora borealis of flame on themselves before putting it out.
Murphy and Weaver both urged vigilance among adults.
“Middle school boys are among the most at-risk for participating in dangerous experiments with fire, although all children should be warned of the danger,” Murphy wrote. “One thing to look out for is lighters. There is no reason for children to carry lighters.”
Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659