Tony Robbins teaches his self-help devotees that overcoming painful obstacles is all in your mind, and has participants walk over a bed of hot coals to prove his point. 21 people did not have enough will to keep their tootsies cool on Thursday, apparently -- that's how many were treated for moderate to severe burns during one of his weekend seminars.
Over 6000 people were in attendance at Robbins' "Unleash the Power Within" talk at the San Jose Convention Center, and all had the opportunity to walk across 10-foot-long beds of hot coals laid out in a park across the street, much like Oprah Winfrey did earlier this year. 21 of them left with serious injuries.
"I heard wails of pain, screams of agony," bystander Jonathan Correll told the Silicon Valley Mercury News.
"It was people seriously hurting, like they were being tortured," he said. "First one person, then a couple minutes later another one, and there was just a line of people walking on that fire. It was just bizarre, man."
Most of the injured were treated at the scene, although three people were transported to a local hospital. Robbins had all necessary permits and medical staff on hand, as well as the local fire inspector present. "Once they became overwhelmed, our inspector called for us," explained San Jose Fire Captain Reggie Williams.
According to The Associated Press, the coals used had temperatures of between 1200 and 200 degrees.
Robbins Research International released a statement Friday saying, "We have been safely providing this experience for more than three decades, and always under the supervision of medical personnel... We continue to work with local fire and emergency personnel to ensure this event is always done in the safest way possible."
By the way, scientists like University of Pittsburgh physics instructor David Willey say successful fire walking has nothing to do with your state of mind and everything to do with the type of coals used. Certain kinds of wood have a lower degree of heat transference.
"…it is the short time of contact and the low thermal capacity and conductivity of the coals that is important," he wrote in a text on the physics of fire walking.
The four-day event continued after the incident, and concludes on Sunday, July 23.
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