An unidentified woman in her sixties suffered life-threatening burns outside the Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall Township, Lehigh County Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
Emergency crews responded to an area behind the H.H. Gregg appliance store on the east side of the mall property.
Whitehall Township police said officers responded around 2:08 p.m. to a call about a female engulfed in flames.
"Upon their arrival with EMS they were able assist with Lehigh Valley Mall security officer who was doing a great job trying to extinguish the flames on this individual," said Whitehall Township Police Lt. Michael Marks. "He was able to use water that he had from his vehicle to assist with putting out the flames on the individual."
"I believe the security guard happened to be driving by," he added.
Whitehall Fire Chief Robert Benner said the fire already was out when the fire department arrived. The chief's understanding is that mall security personnel extinguished the fire. Firefighters washed off the victim.
"She poured gasoline on herself," said Benner.
Whitehall police are investigating what happened.
Police at the scene said no vehicle was involved in the fire.
Marks said the woman, who is in her late sixties, was taken to a hospital in serious condition with severe injuries.
The woman remained hospitalized Thursday.
Police are not releasing her name.
"We have every indication that this is likely a mental health issue," said Lt. Ribello Bertoni of Whitehall police.
Police are investigating it as an isolated incident and said there is no danger to the public.
Anyone who witnessed anything is asked to call Whitehall Township Police at (610) 437-3042.