Spontaneous Human Combustion


It has been more than a century since people claim that some individuals can spontaneously and completely uncharacteristically explode into a combusted flaming ball of fire. This is a phenomenon which is referred to as spontaneous human combustion, and it has been exposed in quite a lot of different and rather popular books on mysteries which are currently left unexplained. Even though the term that is used to describe is rather recent, it was a rare yet particularly real concern to a lot of people back in the 1800s.


In fact, there were a lot of different references to people who suddenly burst into flames in fiction before the 1900s. Of course, one of the most famous examples is the “Bleak House” by Charles Dickens.



The Theories


Now, as far as modern science is concerned, the truth is that fires do not typically start out of the blue. While investigators are looking for the source, they won’t automatically come to the conclusion that the fire automatically ignited itself. In fact, a lot of them would usually suspect careless human behavior or a third-party factor such as a lighting strike, for instance. However, there are quite a few things can also ignite on their own without being directly exposed to flames.


The truth is that under the right thermal circumstances, substances such as oily rags and even coal dust can self-ignite.


Of course, it’s an entirely different subject to insist that people are capable of effectively bursting into flames without any obvious reason. Of course, there are no arguments against the fact that human bodies can burn – their special facilities called crematoriums which are designated to turn the human body to dust in no more than a few moments. However, the actual mystery behind spontaneous human combustion lies in the strange and actually, the lack of circumstances when the victim would burst into flames. As the actual story continues, there is absolutely no potential source of ignition. What is more, SHC is lethal. Different sources claim different initiation points, but that’s one of the less important parts of this.


A Closer Look


Now, there are quite a lot of these claims which are just plain wrong. For instance, there are a lot of photographs that are supposedly of SHC victims which definitively show extreme burning to the clothing as well as the overall surroundings of the person who got burned. What is more, it’s also particularly important to be aware of a few of the specifics about a fire and how it actually goes through.


Fires are self-limiting, in a way. This means that they are likely to put themselves out automatically and naturally because they will simply go out of fuel. However, the public doesn’t really see that as uncontrolled fires usually engulf and burn down an entire building and are particularly unpredictable.


However, it’s completely possible for a bed, sofa or a rug, for example, to catch a fire and not to spread it to the remaining parts of the room. However, it’s also important also important to understand that fires burn upwards and not outward which means that there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary let alone strange about finding a burned out victim in one part of the room while the remaining space is completely intact.


Real Life Cases


Now, the truth is that there are only about a dozen of claimed cases of SHC which have been actually investigated in detail. Joe Nickel, a researcher, examined a lot of those in his writing. In fact, the majority of the claimed cases are far from being a mystery what so ever. Most of them were of elderly people who were asleep and were near some sort of fire – candles, cigarettes and open fires when they actually died. Several of them were also seen to be smoking or drinking alcohol.


If someone is asleep, there is absolutely no issue for him to get his clothes to act like a wick. The flames are going to draw on the body’s fat which is going to act as a fuel for the fire. There is one condition which is called the Stevens-Johnson syndrome. In very extreme and rather rare cases, it can be wrongfully accepted for a case of this condition. This is due to the sudden chemical reaction inside the body which is going to cause certain blisters on the skin which may look like second-degree burns.


There are quite a lot of questions which remain when it comes to spontaneous human combustion. Right off the bat, the first thing that pops into mind is the rarity of these cases. There are over 7 billion people throughout the entire world, and we’ve only seen a handful of these claims in more than a hundred years. This is something particularly curious as to what the phenomenon consists of if there is any mystery at all. The prevailing opinion as of right now is that this is nothing but a story.



Even though there is absolutely no significant and even existing scientific evidence that this particular condition exists, every once in a while there is a strange case which is going to make the news. Just recently, a coroner managed to conclude that an older Irishman Michael Faherty who lived alone burned to death in his own home and had combusted spontaneously. Even though the body of the victim was found really close to a burning fireplace which was also open, the coroner effectively concluded that this was not the source of the ignition.


In any case, it’s also important to understand that spontaneous human combustion has certain patterns which need to be present in terms of scientific criteria. Not every fire leaves the same marks on the remaining, and if it’s a spontaneous one, you need to ensure that everything aligns perfectly. With the majority of cases getting quickly disproved, it’s not easy to determine whether some of them are actually falling within said criteria.