Couple Dies While Participating in Dangerous Art TikTok Trend
A couple in Wisconsin died after attempting to take part in a TikTok trend called "fractal wood burning."
Tanya Rodriguez, 44, and James Carolfi, 52, died at their home in Rozellville on April 6 while participating in the art challenge. Their deaths were confirmed to be accidental; foul play has been ruled out according to local officials.
The local sheriff's office believes that the couple died from electrocution, which caused a fire to break out in their garage that spread to the rest of their house. The home was completely destroyed.
Fractal wood burning involves applying a high-voltage transformer on a piece of wood that has been chemically soaked. This creates lightning-like burns that are unique to every craft. Typically, people use a car battery or even a microwave oven.
"The fractal burning process typically uses a high voltage transformer, often repurposed from a microwave oven," local Deputy Chad Billeb said, adding that the "process is highly dangerous and should only be done by trained professionals."
The American Association of Woodturners noted that at least 33 people have died over the years due to fractal burning. A safety committee banned the practice in 2017.
However, the TikTok trend has millions of views.
People have described the technique as "hypnotic" as the wood catches fire and creates branches via the electricity, creating unusual artwork. Only some professional wood burners on the app can be seen using safety techniques.