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Stuntman left ablaze as fire extinguishers fail

The Local · 29 Oct 2012, 08:46

Published: 29 Oct 2012 08:46 GMT+01:00

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"I've been in a coma three times before, but it's never been so close," he said afterwards.

Heiko von der Schlippen was set on fire and dragged along the ground by a van at a live show in front of around 200 spectators in Cologne, the Bild newspaper reported on Monday.

But when the tow rope was released and the support team moved in to put out the fireball the petrol-soaked stuntman had become, their fire extinguishers failed and panic broke out.

"I couldn't get up, because I was tied up, while it got hotter and hotter," he said. "I felt the helmet melt and merge with my face,” he said.

Wearing a fireproof suit and helmet, von der Schlippen had been strapped facedown to a metal stretcher, doused with petrol, and set alight before a van dragged him along the ground.

He had personally checked the fire extinguishers before the stunt, which he had reportedly performed several times before.

"They were still working then," the 43-year-old, who has worked on the Tom Cruise "Mission Impossible" series, told the paper.

But panic broke out among his assistants as they aimed their fire extinguishers at him but nothing came out. As the fireball continued blazing longer than planned, von der Schlippen tried to wriggle himself free, while the show's MC desperately called for help through the PA system.

A back-up fire extinguisher was finally found and von der Schlippen was put out after having been ablaze for 45 seconds, the paper reported.

The suit would have started to melt if he had been left a few seconds longer. He escaped with a few facial burns, but was otherwise unharmed.

Story continues below…

He was able to attend a benefit event for a 15-year-old burn victim on Sunday. "Now I know how the boy must have felt," he said. "It is hell."

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:51 October 29, 2012 by zeddriver
Very very stupid man. They had to FIND a back-up extinguisher? A back-up should be standard practice. And very near to the support folk.
11:26 October 29, 2012 by chicagolive
Not to be mean but this is Germany they spend forever thinking of the first plan and if that does not work right then they are screwed. Thinking on the fly is not one of their traits. Now the funny thing is he is obviously a trained stuntman and he said he personally check the extinguishers himself before hand. Sounds a little fishy to me. Personally I know the ones they used have failed on me a few times.
13:44 October 29, 2012 by hech54
Tom Cruise should have done that stunt. NO WAY that would have happened with his $cientology Super powers.
13:46 October 29, 2012 by raandy
Two fire extinguishers did not work ,yet they had been tested,ummmm, doen't sound likely, yet it happened. I assume one was designated as the ersatz.

I know Murphy's law "if anything can go wrong it will" they should have been better prepared and had access to additional extinguishers.

But testing both and both failed, why?
16:34 October 29, 2012 by bwjijsdtd
Those who play with fire, usually get burned .... another idiot ...
21:47 October 29, 2012 by Omufu
I have some experience performing with fire. You can't think dumb enough when it comes to safety. So easy for things to go wrong so fast. Honestly though, having two fire extinguishers and checking them both myself just before the event would put most people at ease. Maybe something a little more foolproof like a fire-blanket would be a plan.

Luuuuuuuucky man!
22:07 October 29, 2012 by zeddriver

I like that statement.

"Maybe something a little more foolproof like a fire-blanket would be a plan."

I would say replace the words "A fire-blanket" with the following words. "not dousing your self with benzine and striking a match" That would be a plan for not being burnt.
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