True Crime

Busker burned alive in the street

It was her first day on the job
A still from a video taken that day shows people trying to put the flames out with fizzy drinks.

A woman who caught on fire while performing in Melbourne has spoken out about her ordeal.

Eryn Wright, 28, was fire twirling on the city’s Southbank when her skirt caught ablaze, causing her legs and back to be engulfed in flames.

Eryn Wright.

Eryn was doing a trial for a busking licence on the day it happened.

‘I was dancing with poi, which are long chains with wicks on the end. I was just getting into my routine when I saw a flash of orange,’ explained Eryn.

Realising she was on fire, the experienced street performer dropped to the pavement and tried to roll the flames away.

‘But each time I rolled, the flames would fan up even more,’ said Eryn.

‘The pain was excruciating. It felt like hot oil from a frying pan was constantly spitting all over my legs.’

Eryn was an experienced fire twirler but it was her first day trialling as a busker in Melbourne.

Horrified onlookers watched as Eryn screamed out in pain. One man then tried to help by pouring a can of Coke on the flames and another used a can of Sprite. 

‘As it was a chemical fire, the fizzy drinks just caused the flames to spread,’ said Eryn.

Eventually a man ran over to Eryn and smothered the flames with his suit jacket and the fire went out.

A still from a video taken that day shows people trying to put the flames out with fizzy drinks.

The fire had burned through Eryn’s clothes and melted away the skin on her legs and lower back.

After being rushed to hospital, Eryn was diagnosed with third and second degree burns and had to go into surgery for emergency skin grafts.

She spent the next two month in hospital recovering from her injuries.

Eryn has been left with scars on her legs.

Eight months on from her ordeal, Eryn is telling her story to warn others about how dangerous fire can be.

‘The reason my skirt set alight that day was because some flammable fire water leaked in my bag and onto my skirt,’ said Eryn.

‘All it takes is one silly decision and you can end up scarred for life.’

For the whole story check out Issue 3 of that’s life! On sale now:

Related stories