Woman sets herself on fire at church again

December 22, 2008

A woman is in critical condition this afternoon after lighting herself on fire at a West Nashville church for the second time in two months, Nashville police and fire officials said.

Members of Grace Evangelical Church, 3701 Park Avenue, found the woman on fire in the church parking lot around 1 p.m., Capt. Rich Foley said. Church members put her out with towels.

he woman had apparently poured gasoline from a milk jug on herself and set herself on fire, said Nashville Fire Department spokesman Tim Lankford.

The woman, who was not identified by police and fire officials, was coherent and followed commands from firefighters, Lankford said. She was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with burns to 80 to 90 percent of her body, Lankford said.

“Generally speaking, when someone has burns of that significance, especially second- to third-degree burns, they have a high mortality rate,” Lankford said.

The same woman lit herself on fire during a church service on Nov. 16, suffering burns on her chest. The woman is believed to be in her mid-30s and from Ethiopia; the church has a large Ethiopian population, Foley said.

Police are unsure why the woman continues to set herself on fire at the church.

“She doesn’t really have a vendetta against the church,” Foley said. “She used to be a member, but we don’t know why she’s picking this location.”

The woman has not been charged in either incident, Foley said. A phone message left with the church was not immediately returned Sunday afternoon.