Spontaneous human combustion

fire (Credit: matthewvenn/Flickr)

Spontaneous human combustion refers to the spontaneous burning of living human body without any apparent external source of burning. It may result in death of the human being from fire.

Gavin Thurston wrote on this topic in 1938 and reported in British Medical Journal.

According to Larry E. Arnold’s book “Ablaze!: The Mysterious Fires of Spontaneous Human Combustion.”, there had been nearly 200 cited reports of spontaneous human combustion globally in a time of about 300 years.

Characteristics and possible causes of spontaneous human combustion:

In another article by L. A. Parry published in the same year and month, cited an 1823-published paper, “Medical Jurisprudence,” and told that the reported cases of spontaneous human consumption have some things in common, such as

1. Victims are chronic alcohol users

2. Usually female elders got such combustion

3. There might not be spontaneous combustion but some lighted substances has come into contact with the body

4. Hands and feet usually remain intact

5. Combustible things close to the body usually get very little damage due to fire

6. There are greasy and fetid ashes, very offensive in odour, which are left after the combustion of the body.

It has also been found that the victims of spontaneous combustion had low mobility, either due to advanced age or due to obesity, and had poor health. There are also chances that people either died in sleep or had problems in moving once they had caught fire.

Cigarette smoking and its improper disposal could become the cause of such combustion.

There is another explanation of burning of fat under the skin as a result of some external burning source.

N.B.: Alcohol consumption is very much common in cases of spontaneous combustion. So, don’t use alcohol or you would result in ignition of your body.

Some reported cases:

BBC reported the case of an Irish man, Michael Faherty, 76, who died on on 22 December 2010 at his home in Galway. He was reportedly died of “spontaneous combustion”. Investigators attributed this death to spontaneous combustion because they found only the burned body, the burned ceiling exactly above him and the burned floor exactly below him, while the remaining furniture was intact (not burned).

Moreover, forensic experts said that the fire in the fireplace of the sitting room is not the cause of death. There was no accelerant to increase the chances of some external burning sources.

There is also a case of three month old baby from Tamil Nadu, India. He caught fire first time, when he was only 9 days old, and there are four reported burn injuries since birth. However, some people say that it was not the case of spontaneous combustion.

There was another case, which you can see in the image below:

Spontaneous human combustion


‘First Irish case’ of death by spontaneous combustion – BBC (http://goo.gl/COlvI)

L. A. Parry. “Spontaneous Combustion”. Br Med J. 1938 June 4; 1(4039): 1237. (http://goo.gl/8q8Xur)

TN: 3-month-old baby bursts into flames whenever he sweats – IBN Live (http://goo.gl/9b7CPR)


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