A MAN doused himself in liquid and set himself alight in the street in front of screaming onlookers.
Eyewitnesses said the man, believed to be in his thirties, took his top off and knelt down on the pavement before pouring what smelt like petrol over his body.
He then sparked a lighter which ignited his entire body in flames.
Witnesses described how he immediately fell to the ground and rolled around fully ablaze for about a minute.
The flames were put out when quick-thinking staff at the Pretty Please Health and Beauty parlour rushed out their shop with a fire extinguisher.
The drama unfolded yesterday at 3.40pm at the seafront end of Hove Street as people dined outside a restaurant in the sunshine.
An unnamed employee at Sunshine Books, Art and Coffee, said she was in “complete shock”.
She said: “You just don't expect that kind of thing.
“I heard the commotion and came out and put a fire blanket over him. He was seriously burnt.”
Darrolle Brown, 24, was sitting on a bench when she first saw the man walking up the street.
She said: “I was sitting having a coffee and noticed him shouting and swearing.
“He seemed annoyed at something but I couldn't see who or what he was shouting at.”
She said when he set himself alight he “didn't make any noises, he just rolled on the ground”.
She added: “I was completely shocked. People were screaming and all sorts. I couldn't believe it.”
Cameron Hamblett, 16, said: “I saw him shouting abuse up the road and I thought he was drunk.”
Staff at a nearby Turkish restaurant said customers sitting outside came running inside screaming about a man on fire.
An employee, who did not want to be named, said: “We had people eating outside who came running in and screaming.
“I didn't know what was going on but by the time I got outside the flames were out. Everyone was very upset.”
About half an hour after the incident yesterday a local trader was seen sweeping ash from the pavement outside the beauty parlour.
The man was taken by paramedics to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
A police spokesman said: “We were called at 3.40pm to a report that a man was walking up Hove Street, Hove, and had taken his top off.
“The man poured some sort of liquid on himself and then set himself on fire.
“A member of the public doused the flames and the injured man was taken to Royal Sussex County Hospital for treatment.
“We are treating this as a domestic incident. No one else was involved and an investigation is ongoing.
“Anyone who saw what happened or who has any information about the incident should call 101 quoting serial 929 of 6/5.”