The Strange
Spontaneous Human Combustion The Strange

 Photo of a burned foot 

Spontaneous human combustion is the sudden self-incineration of a human being.  The cause is unknown and even the fact that this phenomena even occurs is under some dispute. The current theory is that when a person drinks large amounts of alcohol and smokes, the body's own chemicals combine with these substances which creates an extremely flammable condition. There also seems to be a connection with certain foods eaten at the time. We do know that the stomach produces the necessary chemicals needed for high-heat combustion. What is being looked at now is the phosphates that are present in the digestive tract, namely phosphine, which can ignite when it contacts air.

The heat generated is so intense (2500 F) and concentrated that often there is no fire started, and the person simply burns right through the floor, sometimes through several floors! The flames also seem to defy the laws of nature by burning downwards.
 

The phenomenon is not a new one. It has been reported since the 1600's.
The great author Charles Dickens wrote about SHC in one of his early novels.  There also seems to be a thirty year trend at the end of which, SHC cases rise in dramatic numbers. The next peak being the year 2004.

There was one case where a man burned through three floors, then burned a black mark in the basement floor.

There was another case where a man's leg burned off while sitting in his trailer. The trailer caught on fire but the man escaped and lived to tell about it.  He said that he was drinking large amounts of alcohol and chain smoking prior to the incident.  He fell asleep to wake up with his leg burning up.

John McMahon, webmaster@thestrangedotcom.com

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