Spontaneous Human Combustion

I have heard of combustible materials during Fire Prevention & First Aid Course, but I find that the term spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC) is a way too mind-boggling a subject. Imagine a person going up in flames for no reason at all. It goes like this: Spontaneous Human Combustion is a name used to describe cases of burning of a living human body without an external source of ignition. Wow...say what? Burning without external source of ignition?

To date, there are over 200 reported cases that has been compiled for the past 3 Centuries. Although, in the past, due to the lack of modern technology, much is depended on hearsay & there is a lack of photographic evidence.

Some Cases of SHC
Case No. 1: Debbie Clark
In September 1985, a young woman named Debbie Clark was walking home when she noticed an occasional flash of blue light.

“ It was me. I was lighting up the driveway every couple of steps.
As we got into the garden I thought it was funny at that point. I was walking around in circles saying: 'look at this, mum, look!' She started screaming and my brother came to the door and started screaming and shouting 'Have you never heard of spontaneous human combustion?' ”

Debbie's mother, Dianne Clark:
“ I screamed at her to get her shoes off and it [the flashes] kept going so I hassled her through and got her into the bath. I thought that the bath is wired to earth. It was a blue light you know what they call electric blue. She thought it was fun, she was laughing.

I was not wearing any nylon clothing [at the time of the flashes]. I used to suffer a lot with static electricity so I tended not to wear anything nylon. I used to crackle with static when taking off my clothes and if I touched any metal thing it used to hurt me. I used to have a lot of trouble with electrical things. They would break down or blow up. ”

Case No 2: Susan Motteshead
In winter 1980, Cheshire, England resident Susan Motteshead was standing in her kitchen, wearing flame-resistant pajamas, when she was suddenly engulfed in a short-lived fire that seemed to have ignited the fluff on her clothing but burned out before it could set anything properly alight.

“ I was in the kitchen and my daughter just screamed out that my back was on fire. As I looked down it sort of whooshed all over me. It was like yellow and blue flames all over me. I was not burned at all. Not even my hair was burned. ”

The daughter, Joanne Motteshead, confirms this account and adds that the fire brigade arrived and tried (unsuccessfully) to set fire to Susan's pajamas.

I had just washed and dried my hair [at the time of the incident]. I used to have a lot when I was younger. I used to get shocks from touching fridges, things like that.

(These first 2 accounts are reported in a book entitled "The Entrancing Flame" by John Heymer. )

Case No 3: John Irving Bentley
Bentley was last seen alive on December 4, 1966, when friends visiting him at his home said goodnight to him at about 9:00 P.M. On the following morning, December 5, Don Gosnell, a meter reader, let himself into Bentley's house and went to the basement to check the meter—since Bentley could only move about with the help of a walker, Mr. Gosnell had permission to enter as necessary.

While in the basement, Gosnell noticed a strange smell and a light blue smoke. Intrigued, he went upstairs to investigate. The bedroom was smoky and in the bathroom he found Bentley's cremated remains.

All that was left intact of the aged doctor was the lower half of his right leg with the slipper still on it. The rest of his body had been reduced to a pile of ashes on the floor in the basement below. His walker lay across the hole in the floor generated by the fire. The rubber tips on it were still intact, and the nearby bathtub was hardly scorched. Gosnell ran from the building to get help, screaming "Doctor Bentley's burned up!".

Case No 4: Mary Reeser
On the night of July 1 – July 2, 1951 she burned to death in her apartment and the nickname "The Cinder Lady" was given to her posthumously by the local media.

The alarm was raised at about 8 a.m. July 2 when Reeser's landlady, Pansy Carpenter, arrived at her door with a telegram. Trying the door, she found the metal doorknob to be uncomfortably warm to the touch and called the police.

Reeser's remains, which were largely ashes, were found among the remains of a chair in which she had been sitting. Only part of her left foot (which was wearing a slipper) remained. Plastic household objects at a distance from the seat of the fire were softened and had lost their shapes.

Reeser's skull had survived and was found among the ashes, but was 'shrunken' (sometimes with the added descriptive flourish of 'to the size of a teacup'). The extent of this shrinkage was enough to be remarked on by official investigators and was not an illusion caused by the removal of all facial features (ears, nose, lips, etc). The shrinking of the skull is not a regular feature of alleged cases of SHC, although the 'shrunken skull' claim has become a regular feature of anecdotal accounts of other SHC cases and numerous apocryphal stories. However, this is not the only case in which the remains featured a shrunken skull.

Possible Causes???
1. There actually was an external source of ignition that does not present itself after the victim of SHC is found.

2. (Unscientific explanation) Paranormal explanations suspicion of to evil ghosts or demons as having caused this bizarre phenomenon.

3. Since every human body contains varying strengths of electrical field and the human body also contains flammable gases (mainly methane in the intestines), an electrical discharge could ignite these gases.

However, Arthur C. Clarke the author of 2001 has this to say about SHC, "There's one mystery I'm asked about more than any other: spontaneous human combustion. Some cases seem to defy explanation, and leave me with a creepy and very unscientific feeling. If there's anything more to SHC, I simply don't want to know.

I have seen self ignited cases as commonly reported during demonstrations where some just douse themselves with kerosene & light themselves up. What a painful & suffocating way to die (I often say to myself when I read such reports). Perhaps, such occurences are pretty rare & there is not sufficient information to find out the exact truth behind this unexplained phenomenon. Perhaps, Science will some day. But until then, these bizarre incidents will continue to baffle mankind who in turn try to speculate with various hypothesis & explanations.



Arz Nova said...

That is so crazy! I remember watching a programme called unsolved mysteries long ago when they showed a case of SHC.

It was shocking and I was scared that it may happen to me sometime lol, I was young so you know how imagination flies hahahaha.

Your blog rocks!

Mystique Earth said...

Hi Arz,
Thanks for your kind comments.
I have noticed that those who are susceptible to static charges have fallen in the SHC statistics.

I was wondering if the others were also experiencing similar symptoms..

Yeah, when we are kids, and if we are introduced to this subject at such an age, it can be eerie. :)

Ariel Nieto said...

WoW!!!That´s amazing!!

TJ Lubrano said...

Hello again Mystique Earth! How did I miss this post?! I was just wondering that I didn't saw a new post of you and when I searched I saw that you already posted one three weeks ago :|!

Yeah I find this subject fascinating but scary at the same time! It really is something that can't be explained. Take care!

Mystique Earth said...

Ariel Netto,
Thanks for dropping by. Your article on the Octoberfest are quite informative.

Mystique Earth said...

Hi TJ,
welcome back. Indeed it is. But, i think the statistics are too slim to cause a worry.

when I was reading the articles on the subject, it reminded me of one particular ex working colleague who used to get short even when touching metal objects. Static energy? Well, some day, I hope that Science will bring some answers to this mysterious phenomena.

TJ Lubrano said...

I'm glad to be back ^_^! I really like your articles!

A few examples you wrote about, state that the persons already had a high risk on getting electric shocks by touching metal and one even avoided wearing nylon! It makes you wonder what element in one's body causes this reaction. What causes the body to create such a high level of heat? Also that sometimes a feet, leg stays intact. I wonder if these people are telekinetic in some way, or that they have certain abilities of which they are not aware of?

I do hope they find some scientific data in the future, but luckily it isn't a phenomena that occurs a lot.

Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog! It made me really happy ^_^! Improvement in skills is always a good thing! Take care

Mystique Earth said...

Hi TJ,
Insufficient records totaling about 200 odd for the past 3 centuries does not indicate anyone with Pyrokinetic abilities.

Nylon materials for those prone with this problems seems quite thought provoking. I wonder if all of them were high with static energies & if all those people were last wearing nylon materials at the time of the catastrophic phenomena.

Nice clue. Wanna try the CSI? :)

No problems. I have noted your creativity filled art much of lately & I felt a commend was highly necessary so that You keep up with this talents. Who knows, you might want to try the cartoons too (Your latest post) in the local tabloid.

Tricia said...

Spontanious human combustion has also facinated me. Fantasic article. I had only seen documentaries about this subject bu† no†˙ing in writing. I had †o read the cases twice. It amazes me that most of the rooms the people were in, were untouched and unharmed by the heat an flames. I wonder if †he people suffered? I don'† †˙ink †hey would have or †hey would have been found in different positions. So weird. Love your post!

TJ Lubrano said...

Hahaha CSI! I have to say I do find this interesting! And it's interesting to analyze these cases and to see what they could have missed!

I'm currently exploring my opportunities with my illustrations! Of course I'll keep you posted via my blog ^_^. Ciao!!

Mystique Earth said...

Hi Tj,
Thanks for your comments.

I have to see your latest Crafts. Some of them are really cute.

Mystique Earth said...

Hi Tricia,
Welcome back!

It is indeed an interesting point that you noted. The intense fire can also burn up the bones of the victim but not the surroundings...
Very Strange indeed....

Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

this is indeed mind boggling but one thing for sure is that i wouldn't like to be near them but who's going to know whether the person next to you is having this syndrome....scary.

Mystique Earth said...

Mr. Hans @ the Bluesman,
Indeed scary. But thank heavens the incidence of spontaneous human combustion doesn't spread to others like the H1N1 virus.

kamagra oral jelly said...

The photos looks so unreal, I still cant believe that this is really a reality, I haven't seen a video or something showing a human combustion, although the evidence in some cases are overwhelming.

Mystique Earth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mystique Earth said...

Hi Kamagra,
The number of occurrences are too low to draw a conclusion though the story is as creepy as it can get.

So far, insufficient records totals only about 200 odd incidents for the past 3 centuries.

I am not too sure myself if they are true, but perhaps time will tell.

generic cialis said...

Amazing! It's really hard to get this on video because the number of cases is too short! =

Mystique Earth said...

Hi Generic,
Very true as far as the 200 odd recorded cases over 3 Centuries, the stats are too low indeed and none captured in video to support the authenticity of these accounts.

Viagra said...

Hi to everybody, I found this theme so intrigant, is curious you know, but I notice something in the most of this stranges cases, almost all happen in the night and the unique part that is not affected are the feet, rare, don't you think?


Cops on graveyard shift duty at Bandar Hilir police station experienced an incident that sent a chilling shock straight to their spines....