A man from Sheffield is being treated in hospital for serious burns to his body and hands - after being set alight in what is believed to have been a prank gone wrong on a lads’ weekend away to Norfolk.
The man, aged 34, caught fire at the bar of a packed nightspot on the Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth.
Witnesses said they believed he and some pals were messing about with aftershave when the substance ignited.
Four men, also from Sheffield, and who police confirmed are known to the victim, were questioned by detectives and released on bail last night.
They are aged 24, 26, 28 and 33 years old. The 28-year-old answers bail in early June, and the rest in late May.
The drama unfolded at about 1.30am yesterday, when the Long John’s Bar on Britannia Pier was packed with customers enjoying a night out.
One witness, who was buying drinks at the bar, said: “Out of the corner of my eye I saw flames. At first I was thinking it was just a T-shirt alight, then I realised it was a guy on fire from his chest up, with flames spreading towards his head.
“He started to slow-drop to the ground with people patting him, but the fire wasn’t going out. The music was still playing and nothing stopped.
“It smelled like a burning skin smell for ages, and the place was full of smoke from him too.”
Keegan Snell, the manager of Britannia Pier, said: “He went up like a fireball.
“He was in a bad way. The police told me it was touch and go. There were four or five of us helping him. He could walk but I don’t think he would have been able to on his own.
“As we were going down the pier, he had a T-shirt over his head and he was screaming. He was in a lot of distress. The ambulance got him away pretty quickly.
“It was a group down from Yorkshire, it must have been a lads’ weekend away.”
Others in the bar said people were laughing at first as they thought it was a stunt, but quickly realised the man was in danger.
Customers and staff used tea towels and shirts to put the flames out.
The entire incident was captured on the bar’s CCTV cameras, and footage has been handed to police.
The victim, who suffered serious burns to his hands and his torso, was taken to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, then on to the Broomfield burns unit in Chelmsford, Essex, where he remains in a serious but non life-threatening condition.
Anyone with information about the incident was today being asked to contact police in Great Yarmouth, by calling Norfolk Police on 101 and asking for CID.
n Do you know the victim or the group of men involved? Please contact The Star’s newsdesk by email at email@example.com or by calling the newsdesk on 0114 252 1309.