Disaster Afoot

Oprah successfully made a pain-free fire walk when she hung out with Tony Robbins a few months ago -- but this weekend, 21 other people weren't so lucky.

Sage and Tony RobbinsTony 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.

Watch Oprah and her team fire walk with Tony Robbins:

Image courtesy Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.com


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Comments on "Tony Robbins fire walk is too hot to handle"

Nicky July 24, 2012 | 10:45 AM

It's sensationalized because it fails to mention that of the 6000 people who attended the seminar and walked on fire, 99.65% made it through completely safely. Compare that to the success rate of of other "firewalks" in our lives- like relationships (50% divorce rate) or success rate in businesses (5% survive 5 years).

Norman July 23, 2012 | 6:28 AM

He should pay for all damages to innocent people hurt by a con artist. I am surprised there are intelligent but innocent people who are hypnotized by him and his kind. I have seen a couple of people who were addicted to his pep talks and paid every two or three months a lot of money to listen to him. Also, the National Institute of Health and FTC should investigate his claims and methods if they make scientific sense and what long term impact they have on people who go through his programs. Free market does not mean snake oil salesmen making outlandish claims, taking people's money and injuring them in the process.

some guy July 23, 2012 | 6:22 AM

I love how everyone talks about how the reports are "sensationalized." Did you read the article? How is that not a factual account of what happened? Did you ever wonder why you buy overpriced snake oil? If you were one of the people who was waiting in line after the coals had gotten too hot, would you have stepped out of line? Or is it the very same type of group think that got you involved in the event in the first place that would keep you walking on hot coals after those before you screamed in agony? People really need to learn to challenge group think. Maybe if they can start realizing some hard truths about themselves rather than buy a millionaire's generic advice then they might actually find a real hobby or skill instead of "walking on fire" to try to prove physics wrong.

Stephanie Chandler July 23, 2012 | 12:33 AM

I attended the Tony Robbins event this past weekend and successfully completed the firewalk, along with 5,979 other people. I'm sorry that 21 people were injured, but we all knew the risks when we willingly chose to do this! The media reports have been sensationalized. I wrote more about it on my blog: http://businessinfoguide/what-really-happened-at-the-tony-robbins-firewalk-event-in-san-jose/

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