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iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Dozens suffered burn injuries Thursday night in Texas after walking across hot coals as part of a self-help program put on by celebrity motivational speaker Tony Robbins, according to Dallas authorities.

"Unleash the Power Within," a three-and-a-half-day event with Robbins held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, promised to help participants "achieve your goals and improve the quality of your life," according to Robbins' website.

One method of self-improvement on the schedule for Thursday evening was to "storm across a bed of hot coals" in order to "overcome the unconscious fears that are holding you back," the website stated. "Once you start doing what you thought was impossible, you’ll conquer the other fires of your life with ease." The event schedule has since been removed from the website.

At least five people ended up hospitalized, according to Dallas Fire-Rescue (DFR).

In total, approximately 30 to 40 people were evaluated at the convention center for minor burn injuries and as many as five rescue units and two EMS supervisors were assigned to help manage the situation, Jason Evans, a spokesman for the DFR, said in a statement.

"Apparently, as part of a motivational event being held at the location, several people attempted to walk across hot coals. As a result, a large number of these people sustained burn injuries to their feet and lower extremities," Evans said in a statement.

"This is not something I can personally recall having seen before," Evans told ABC News Friday.

In a statement, Robbins' spokeswoman Jennifer Connelly told ABC News Friday: "At an Unleash the Power Within seminar in Dallas, seven thousand attendees successfully participated in a fire walk which has been a celebrated part of this event for 35 years. It is always the goal to have no guests with any discomfort afterwards but it’s not uncommon to have fewer than 1% of participants experience 'hot spots' which is similar to a sunburn which can be treated with aloe. As always there were trained medical and event staff at the fire walk specifically to offer quick and easy remedies for any soreness.

"Someone unfamiliar with the process of the fire walk called 911 reporting the need for emergency services vehicles to be dispatched. While there was no need for emergency personnel we are grateful to the quick and robust response from Dallas emergency services, only 5 of 7,000 participants requested any examination beyond what was readily available on site. We are pleased to have completed another successful fire walk for 7,000 guests and look forward to the remainder of an outstanding weekend with them."

Tad Schinke, a trainer at yesterday's event, told local ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV, "We always have a few people that have some discomfort afterwards and we do our best to take care of them."

Jacqueline Luxemberg, a participant, told WFAA-TV that many people took selfies and pictures while storming across the bed of hot coals. She speculated that that may have been why so many suffered burns.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved


iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) — At least 23 people have died from devastating flooding and historic rainfall in West Virginia, according to the state's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has called the flooding "among the worst in a century" for some parts of the state.

The body of a child who was swept away in fast-moving floodwaters was found this morning, about a mile from where he was last seen in Jackson County Thursday, the Ravenswood Fire Department said.

 

 

Initial reports showed 100 homes were seriously damaged or destroyed, Tomblin said.

But amid the tragedies were stories of heroic actions, Tomblin said: police rescued a woman trapped in her car with water rising to her neck, and some people risked their lives to rescue others who were stranded on rooftops and in rivers.

A state of emergency was declared in 44 of the state's 55 counties.

Some 200 National Guard members were helping Friday in eight counties, Tomblin said.

 

 

Rescue efforts were also underway Friday to save hundreds of people who became stranded inside a West Virginia mall overnight after a bridge connecting the shopping center to a main road collapsed and washed away, officials told ABC News.

About 500 people, including employees and customers, became got stuck inside the Crossings Mall in Elkview, about 12 miles from Charleston, around 4 p.m. Thursday, said Rick McElhaney, assistant deputy director with Metro 911 in Kanawha County.

First responders walked some people from the mall around to a back road to board public transportation, an official with the Kanawha County Emergency Operations Center told ABC News Friday morning.

"I have a farm, I have got to get home," one woman said while walking down a steep hill behind the mall.

Crews were also working Friday to build a gravel road to get people out. But some people stayed at the mall because their homes were flooded.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- A Georgia couple visiting Florida was struck by lightning while wading in ankle-deep water off Daytona Beach on Friday just before 5 p.m.

Capt. Tamra Marris, of Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue, told ABC News that an adult male and female were taken unconscious from the beach and transported to a local hospital. The male victim woke up while being transported to the hospital, while the female regained consciousness later, Capt. Marris said.

A third victim reported feeling a tingle in the water but walked back to a nearby hotel and was attended to by emergency crews.

Multiple witnesses at the scene around the Hyatt Daytona Beach Shores hotel called 911 after seeing the lightning strike. It was unclear if the lightning struck the couple directly, or the water nearby.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved


ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Orange County Sheriff's deputies who responded to the scene at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando the night a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 more recounted the "chaotic" scene they witnessed as they tended to the wounded and tried to bring patrons to safety, according to incident reports recently released to the public.

As deputies -- who assisted with evacuations and held a perimeter until Orlando PD SWAT arrive -- got to the scene in the early morning hours of June 12, they were told that it was an "active shooter" situation and that there were "multiple victims" in the area who were "seriously injured with gunshot wounds," according to the report.

As soon as one deputy approached the scene, the first thing he saw was EMS tending to victims.

"The scene was chaotic as many of the victims had gunshot wounds and some who had been carried over appeared to be dead," the officer wrote in the incident report.

The officer was tasked with crowd control, he said, as several of the victims and witnesses were "hysterical." Victims who were fatally and critically wounded were being placed behind a nearby bagel shop and the wounded who were able to walk were placed in the parking lot.

A deputy who was positioned on the south entrance of the club saw three to four deceased victims in the parking lot, as well as several people exiting the building, the report said. When he saw a woman who was shot, he assisted an Orlando Police Department officer in moving her away from the building, he said. He then saw a second woman who had been shot and attempted to ask her about what she witnessed, but she did not have any information to provide, the officer reported. He then heard "numerous sounds of gunfire" inside.

While taking cover on the east side of the building just outside of the patio, one deputy described covering the other officers as they extracted injured victims from inside the club.

Another deputy described hearing shots fired as he approached the club on foot and seeing people covered in blood running out of the building and several more in the parking lot who suffered from gunshot wounds. That officer assisted in carrying the injured people to vehicles to be taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, the report stated.

A deputy who helped carry a man who appeared to have gunshot wounds to his right forearm and left shin remembered exactly what he was wearing: a black T-shirt and blue jeans. The officer then responded to the hospital after reports of shots fired there. When he arrived, he was advised by security that shots hadn't been fired and he positioned himself in the emergency room to assist with the hospital's lockdown protocol.

First responders have been grappling with the emotional toll of witnessing the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in recent American history.

"It was like a war scene," EMT Julio Salgado told ABC News earlier. "It was load and go. Just get them out of there."

Some officers have been hailed as heroes for rescuing wounded patrons as shots continued to ring out.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to ISIS during a call to authorities as the massacre was going on.

Officials have called the shooting an act of terrorism and a hate crime.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is set to end the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military in July, according to Defense official.

One official says the lifting of the ban could be announced by Defense Secretary Ash Carter as soon as July 1, though final details remain to be worked out, which could delay the announcement.

Defense officials confirm that there will be a meeting Monday involving top personnel officers from all of the military services to discuss the transgender ban.

According to one of the officials, lifting the ban will be followed by a one-year implementation plan to address housing and personnel issues that would be required.

Last July, Carter announced lifting the ban and formed a task force to review how that would occur. He directed the task force to work under the assumption that the ban would be lifted.

The task force's assessment continued beyond the original six-month deadline and recommendations were not presented until February.

It is unclear how many transgender people might be serving in the military, but one study by UCLA estimated there could be as many as 15,000 among the 1.3 million active duty force.

"Our transgender service members and their families are breathing a huge sigh of relief," said Ashley Broadway-Mack, President of the American Military Partner Association, in a statement issued Friday following a USA Today story that broke the news of the pending announcement.

"Soon, anyone who is qualified will finally be able to serve our great nation, regardless of their gender identity. We are eagerly anticipating the details of this historic announcement, and we are incredibly grateful for the leadership Secretary Carter has shown in getting us to this critically important point for our military families."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved





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