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A person can spontaneously burst into flames

By Morgan Wallace
Published in Spooky
February 02, 2024
2 min read
A person can spontaneously burst into flames

A person can spontaneously burst into flames


Have you ever heard of the phenomenon where a person mysteriously bursts into flames without any external source of ignition? It may sound like something out of a horror movie, but there are actually cases of spontaneous human combustion that have been documented throughout history. While the exact cause of these incidents remains a topic of debate among scientists and experts, it is crucial to separate fact from fiction when discussing this intriguing and mysterious topic.

What is Spontaneous Human Combustion?

Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) refers to instances where a person suddenly catches fire without any apparent external explanation. The victim’s body is consumed by fire, while the surrounding environment remains relatively untouched. This phenomenon is often characterized by the combustion of the body’s soft tissues, leaving behind only the extremities or parts that are less combustible, such as limbs or bones.

Controversial Cases


Multiple cases of spontaneous human combustion have been reported throughout history. One of the most famous incidents is the case of Mary Reeser, also known as the “Cinder Woman.” In 1951, Mary’s landlady found her remains in a chair, with only a pile of ashes and a portion of her left foot left intact. The surrounding objects showed no signs of fire damage, adding to the mystery surrounding her death.

Another well-known case is that of Henry Thomas, an elderly man from Wales who was found burnt to death in his home in 1980. Similar to other cases, Thomas’ body was almost entirely reduced to ashes, with only his shins and feet remaining. Investigations ruled out external sources of fire, leaving the case unexplained.

Theories and Explanations

To this day, spontaneous human combustion remains a puzzling phenomenon with various controversial theories attempting to explain it. One hypothesis suggests that the combustion is caused by an excess buildup of natural gases within the body, such as methane, which ignites due to a spark of some kind. However, critics argue that the human body does not possess sufficient combustible materials to sustain a fire for a prolonged period.

Another theory proposes the “wick effect,” wherein a small external flame, like a cigarette or an ember, ignites a person’s clothing or hair. Once ignited, fat in the body acts as a fuel source, keeping the fire burning and leading to the eventual destruction of the body. However, this theory does not fully explain cases where the burning is localized to specific body parts, leaving other areas untouched.

Scientific Skepticism and the Lack of Evidence

While spontaneous human combustion has captured the public’s imagination and has been sensationalized in various media, it is essential to approach the topic with scientific skepticism. Many experts argue that the incidents attributed to spontaneous combustion can be better explained by external sources of ignition, such as careless handling of open flames, faulty heaters, or forgotten cigarettes.

Researchers also point out that the presence of flammable substances, such as alcohol or accelerants, on the clothing of victims can greatly contribute to the severity and duration of the fire, giving the appearance of spontaneous combustion.


Although spontaneous human combustion continues to fascinate and perplex both scientists and the general public, its true existence remains uncertain. While some cases appear mysterious and defy conventional explanations, the scientific community has not yet reached a consensus on the phenomenon.

It is crucial to approach such cases with rationality and an openness to alternative explanations. As investigations continue and knowledge progresses, the enigma of spontaneous human combustion may one day be unraveled.


#Spooky#Human Body#Science


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Morgan Wallace

Morgan Wallace

Political journalist

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