Horrified witnesses rushed to put out the flames after seeing the man crossing the road, "engulfed in flames".
Witness Shazad Ali, 33, rushed to help the man after seeing the man on fire.
He said: "I was in my car when I saw the man, about 50 metres away. He was covered in flames, head to toe.
"The man was walking across the street.
"A car drove past, but didn't stop, as they were obviously so shocked.
"I quickly started the car and got to him as fast as I could.
"He had his back to me but he was engulfed in flames.
"I could see the blisters on his skin – I knew I had to help him.
"I was worried about what had started the fire, and I didn't want to cause more pain – but I knew I had to do something.
"I took my jacket off, and started patting the fire out. It only took about 10-15 seconds, and it worked."
The man suffered severe injuries and was airlifted to a specialist burns unit in Essex.
Cambridge Constabulary today confirmed: "We were called at 8.20am with reports of a man on fire outside YMCA in Wellington Street, Eastgate.
"The circumstances are not fully known at this time.
"The man has suffered severe injuries and was initially taken to Peterborough City Hospital by ambulance, but has since been airlifted to a specialist burns unit in Chelmsford."
"He is in a critical condition."
It is understood the man was outside the YMCA.
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