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Spontaneous Human Combustion - Is it possible?

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posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 12:08 PM
Spontaneous Human Combustion is a phenomenon where a living person suddenly bursts into flames for no apparent reason. The first reported case was thought to have been in 1763. A Frenchman named Jonas Dupont published a collection of Spontaneous Human Combustion cases. The belief in SHC continued on well into the 1800's, Charles Dickens used SHC in his novel "Bleak House" to kill off a character. It was generally believed in the 1800's that SHC was caused by alcoholism. They believed that the accumulation of alcohol in the body tissues would dramatically increase the combustibility of the body. It was also thought that the body metabolized alcohol to produce hydrogen and other inflammable gases which were then stored in the body tissues. A spark produced by the body's own electricity would then ignite the body. However as more knowledge of the metabolism of the body was discovered this theory was soon dismissed as they discovered that you would die of alcoholic poisoning before you would get to the stage of being saturated with alcohol.The public interest in SHC lost all it's appeal until 1951 when the Reeser case became public knowledge.

On July 2nd 1951 remains were found of a 67 year old widower named Mary Reeser. Her burnt smouldering remains were found by her Neighbor and some house painters. She had been sitting in an easy chair when the incident happened. Her left foot still wearing a slipper remained intact and only the corner of the room and the chair she was sitting in had been burnt. Firemen, police and pathologists examined Mrs. Reeser's remains and also found her liver which was fused to a lump of vertebrae and her skull which had been shrunk to the size of a baseball by the unusually intense heat.

The the walls of the apartment were covered with a greasy substance, plastic switches had melted along with two candles which the wicks had been left unburnt. There was only a small circular burn area which encompassed the remains of Mrs. Reeser and her chair. For such a cremation experts say that a temperature of 2500 degrees is necessary. A cigarette accidently dropped whilst asleep would never of caused such heat. The true cause of the burning death of Mrs. Reeser is still unknown. She is the most famous case of Spontaneous Human Combustion.

The following facts are common to all SHC cases:

- Eighty percent of the victims are female

- Most of the victims were overweight and/or alcoholics

- The body is very badly burned, but the room the body was found in is pretty much intact except for a fine layer of soot

- A yellow, foul smelling oil is usually surrounding the body

- The torso, including the chest, abdomen and hips tend to be totally consumed, sparing portions of the extremities and the head - the clothing can also be intact

- The victim was always on their own - no shouts or screams could ever be heard

- The victim had usually been drinking heavily prior to the death.

Other cases can be found at:

I know there's been a debate for a long time as to whether there is such a thing as spontaneous human combustion. I believe it is unlikely to be true and these strange incidents can be explained in some other way. I'm curious as to what opinions others have as to what really happened to these victims.

posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 01:33 PM
I have read manny cases of this and Not everone who has had this happen died from it .One guys arm was nearly burnt off but it stoped .
In another report AT A BEACH in full public view a boy started burning and his farther put him in the water but he contuined to burn anyway.
Heres my theroy the human body is mostly water and does produce electricty .I belive under RARE sicermstances (eating just the right combanation of this along with manny ofther facters the body starts producing electroliss .The electricty spliting the oxgen and hydren .Ovesly then all it takes is one spark in the form of a nerve fireing to start the fire.
Once it gets going its a closed system and the body just keeps spliting the water till theres none left to burn causing a VERY hot fire in a very short time.
Now wile abslute proff of this is hard to come by the physices behind the possibilty are true so it is possible it happens like this.
Ps and if it is true its the Only explanation that fits.Theres no other way for the body to produce enough energy to burn it compleatly.

posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 01:44 PM
Interesting.....I'm going to look further into this. That's the only scientific explanation I've heard so far and warrants some further research!!

posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 02:07 PM
I have read several stories about SHC and it is a very wicked way to check out. It has always facinated me me in two respects !. Can the human body actually consume enoungh booze to make it go up in smoke? and if it could, why is the fire just maintened to the person and not the things nearby Ie. nightstand, chair, bed etc... 2. You hear every now and then about a person getting struck by lightning and living to tell about it. Now if one were in the right place indoors, why could not a bolt come through and strike a person where they sit or stand? I have read reports of lightining passing through a house and doing weird stuff to the contents such as blowing out t.v's. and generally reaking havoc with the ele. system. Or could it be that old line of "watch out for the lightning bolt" for not living the right life? Facinating subject matter.

posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 04:34 PM
This I know is true as its in the genniss book a guy has been hit by lightling 7 times in his life >Once it came in trough the living room window.
As for a person burning without the surounding stuff burning its because a Hydron oxgan combo fire IS very hot indeed around 3000% and it only takes seconds for the body to compleatly burn .PS pluse the body burns from the inside out not the out side in most of the heat is contained within the body as it burns.

[edit on 12-2-2005 by Simcity4Rushour]

posted on Feb, 15 2005 @ 10:11 AM
Theories about Spontaneous Human Combustion:

- Alchoholism - many Spontaneous Human Combustion vicitms have been alcoholics. But experiments in the 19th century demonstrated that flesh impregnated with alcohol will not burn with the intense heat associated with Spontaneous Human Combustion.

- Deposits of flammable body fat - Many victims have been overweight - yet others have been skinny.

- Devine Intervention - Centuries ago people felt that the explosion was a sign from God of devine punishment.

- Build-up of static electricity - no known form of electrostatic discharge could cause a human to burst into flames.

- An explosive combination of chemicals can form in the digestive system - due to poor diet.

- Electrical fields that exist within the human body might be capable of 'short circuiting' somehow, that some sort of atomic chain reaction could generate tremendous internal heat.

No satisfactory explanation of Spontaneous Human Combustion has ever been given. It is still an unsolved mystery.

Info found at:

More research to follow......

posted on Feb, 15 2005 @ 10:20 AM
The show Mythbusters actually did a segment on this and could not get it to jive. Personally, I believe that in the percise situation and conditions it is possible. After all, the human body is just one big chemical factory and we just keep putting more and more unnatural and processed chemicals in ourselves daily.

posted on Feb, 15 2005 @ 11:49 AM
Considering the amount of time human beings have existed versus the period of time we've been capable of scientifically analyzing our existence leaves quite a desirable void of "the unknown"....

I've always been fascinated by this topic....And it seems it's certainly a possibility – But I don’t see how it could leave nothing but ashes, as we’re talking about actually burning human bone, which is something not even a crematorium can do efficiently….

posted on Feb, 15 2005 @ 12:15 PM
This is from:

A decisive experiment was attempted at the California Criminalistic Institute. Dr. John de Haan wrapped a dead pig in a blanket and sprinkled some gasoline over it. After ignition, the animal burned for five hours and its bones were destroyed. Haan chose to use a pig for this experiment because its fat content closely resembles that of humans.

The results? It demonstrated the aforementioned wick-effect, which explains why a person can slowly burn internally without attracting witnesses. It also explained why only the parts of the body that are high in fat content would be set ablaze, while other parts, like feet, remained intact.

After revisiting past alleged cases, researchers discovered that the victims were almost all elderly, and had the bad habit of smoking in bed. Sometimes murder was suspected, but mostly they were accidents in which the victims failed to wake up, having been under the influence of sleeping pills, alcohol or narcotics.

This attempts to explain away all the cases of potential SHC, but seems to forget the issue that these people were not on fire for 5 hours....some firefighters estimated lengths of time of some of the fires at or around only 20 minutes.....and the temperature necessary to burn the bodies as they were burned is estimated at around 3000 degrees fahrenheit (much hotter than used in a cremation)....which caused the bones to turn to dust, which someone mentioned earlier is pretty tough to do......and these potential SHC fires were not intiated with gasoline....

posted on Jun, 8 2010 @ 12:48 PM
some kind of electromagnetic anomaly perhaps, which heats the iron in our body, vaporates our body-water and melts\incinerates our body fat, Is it possible that way? SHC scenes er themselves only minorly damaged, maybe because microwaves do allmost no damage to "hard" materials like plastic. can my theory be correct?

posted on Jun, 9 2010 @ 01:35 AM
It could be tied to some of those artificial chemicals
Imagine it all mix inside of you then flowing through your blood
Like micro programmed organisms designed to create a chemical reaction within your body like an explosion,

It could be plausible, but it would require some studies in bio-chemical field, relating to chemicals and there reactions,
I do believe if some sort of combustable material other then alcohol were to enter your system your insides would just melt.

However I believe some sort of artificial genetically modified virus could potentially heat up your body exhibiting fever symptoms, most natural poisons cause very vivid dissasociation and rapid heartbeat and also a very high fever.

Now if you were to somehow genetically modify the natural poison and remove the genetics that cause the certain effects and amp up the fever effects, then it's just possible to get the body to heat up extreme tempatures to cause a combustion.
but then again that's just all theory, who would waste the time & resources to-do such a thing?

[edit on 9-6-2010 by cyb0rne]

posted on Sep, 23 2011 @ 09:18 AM
seems like spontaneous human combustion does happen, new documented report from Ireland



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