SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Fire officials said 21 people at an event hosted by motivational speaker Tony Robbins suffered burns while walking across hot coals, and three of the injured were treated at hospitals.
The injuries took place during the first day Thursday of a four-day event at the San Jose Convention Center hosted by Robbins called "Unleash the Power Within." Most of those hurt had second and third degree burns, said San Jose Fire Department Capt. Reggie Williams.
Walking across hot coals heated to between 1,200 to 2,000 degrees provides attendees an opportunity to "understand that there is absolutely nothing you can overcome," according to the motivational speaker's website.
Robbins Research International said in a written statement that 6,000 attendees of the event walked across the coals Thursday.
Organizers had an "open burn permit" and medical staff at the event, and there was also a fire inspector on the scene, Williams said.
"Once they (the medical staff) became overwhelmed, our inspector called for us," Williams said.
Witness Jonathan Correll told the San Jose Mercury News that he "heard wails of pain, screams of agony."
One young woman appeared to be in so much pain "it was horrific," he told the newspaper. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Correll were not immediately successful.
Participant Sahar Madani told KTVU-TV that attendees warned that they might get burns or blisters.
"The intention of the event is to get your focus and your attention away from that and look into the power within yourself and focus on just walking on the fire," she told the station.
Robbins Research International said Friday, "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."
Williams did not have any additional details, such as the ages or names of those hurt.
Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com