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Magikman

Spontaneous Human Combustion

17 posts in this topic

 From most of my posts it may seem that I'm skeptical about everything paranormal, that isn't the case. There are a few subjects that seem to have no rational explanation, one of them being  spontaneous human combustion. Occurances are very rare and shockingly graphic. There is nothing more unusual than to see a human body almost totally consumed by fire and yet have the chair, bed and surrounding environment show only the barest of damage. Flames from a fire need to reach approx. 2500 degress F. in order to turn human bone to ash, and this intense heat would have to do extensive harm to its surroundings. Whether this is truely a paranormal event or not may be questionable, but it is certainly very odd. Because it is so rare, there have not been many chances to properly examine the evidence. It may be caused by an unknown medical condition(unlikely), or explosive interaction of some combustable element internally(alcohol & ?).

  Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? Please feel free to post your views and/or opinions.

Magikman

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Magikman, tough topic. Dont know much, but I pulled this off the internet somewhere:

On May 18, 1957, Anna Martin, 68, of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was found incinerated, leaving only her shoes and a portion of her torso. The medical examiner estimated that temperatures must have reached 1,700 to 2,000 degrees, yet newspapers two feet away were found intact.

On December 5, 1966, the ashes of Dr. J. Irving Bentley, 92, of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, were discovered by a meter reader. Dr. Bentley's body apparently ignited while he was in the bathroom and burned a 2-1/2-by-3-foot hole through the flooring, with only a portion of one leg remaining intact. Nearby paint was unscorched.

Perhaps the most famous case occurred in St. Petersburg, Florida. Mary Hardy Reeser, a 67-year-old widow, spontaneously combusted while sitting in her easy chair on July 1, 1951. The next morning, her next door neighbor tried the doorknob, found it hot to the touch and went for help. She returned to find Mrs. Reeser, or what was left of her, in a blackened circle four feet in diameter.

All that remained of the 175-pound woman and her chair was a few blackened seat springs, a section of her backbone, a shrunken skull the size of a baseball, and one foot encased in a black stain slipper just beyond the four-foot circle. Plus about 10 pounds of ashes.

The police report declared that Mrs. Reeser went up in smoke when her highly flammable rayon-acetate nightgown caught fire, perhaps because of a dropped cigarette.

But one medical examiner stated that the 3,000-degree heat required to destroy the body should have destroyed the apartment as well. In fact, damage was minimal - the ceiling and upper walls were covered with soot. No chemical accelerants, incidentally, were found.

POSSIBLE THEORIES:

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, and you would die of alcohol poisoning long before the body would become flammable.

Deposits of flammable body fat - Many victims have been overweight, and smokers. The victims could have burned themselves to the point of unconsiousness(I know I spelled that wrong), while their external body heat rose the point of igniting there body fat(which is flammable)

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.

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.

For the last few hundred years there have been reports about SHC. No satisfactory explanation of SHC has ever been given. It is still an unsolved mystery.

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The phenomenon of Spontaneous Human Combustion can be divided into two categories. The first category, is the most common, and involves someone being found in the classic SHC state, charred remains on the floor, with the surrounding room unscathed. There is a scientific explanation for this category of SHC, although it does not work in all cases. This explanation concerns what is known as the "Candle Wick Effect". This involves the body acting like an inside-out-candle, burning very hot, but very slowly. It can take up to seven hours for a body to be rendered to ashes.

An example of the candlewick effect is as follows :

An old age pensioner living alone for example, coming down the stairs at night in a dressing gown, and carrying a candle. In classic SHC cases, that person may fall down the stairs and be knocked unconscious. The candle they are holding sets their clothes on fire, hence the candle wick effect takes hold. The victim's clothing acts like the wick of the candle, while the body fat acts as the wax to keep the fire burning. The localisation of this prevents the rest of the room catching fire.

The science team who came up with this theory, used the same principles to set a pig's carcass on fire in an ordinary bedroom. After 7 hours, the carcass had burnt away to almost nothing, and the surrounding room was almost unscathed. This theory does explain some cases of SHC's, but not all.

Which takes us onto category 2 - in which a victim really does spontaneously combust - sometimes in front of other people. When someone suddenly bursts into flames for no reason - there really is no explanation. The candle wick effect takes hours and hours - true spontaneous human combustion really is a complete mystery. Finding an explanation for this sort of thing will be a lot more difficult.

You can read more about the candle wick effect on the Encyclopedia Article of SHC,

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/combust.htm

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Whether it's catagory one or two, I imagine the lack of evidence(due to most or all of it being burned) and the infrequency of the incidents makes an investigation extremely difficult if not impossible.

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I read somewhere recently about God(or a mythical god)letting people live to about the age of 500(not looking their age,of course). As soon as their time was up, they literaly expired by SHC. Now you see me, now you don't!!

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Talk about an unexpected death. I sure wouldnt want to go to that persons 500th birthday party ;D

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Good one, Homer!! I guess you wouldn't dare want to light any candles on the cake(LOL)!!! :o

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if you went to that guys 500th birthday you would probably die of the candle wick effect considerding that there are 500 candles on his birthday cake! :)

now thats what i call the candle wick effect!:)

now to get serious. my theory on SHC is that microwave energy was involved in some way because microwaves cook from the inside out. there was a case once in which the person who died of SHC, all of the food in his fridge was cooked, which was probably the result of microwave energy.

who knows???

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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.

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MM ,

I have been facinated by the phenomenon of SHC since I was about 5.

I watched a documentary on the subject a few months ago were they succsessfully simulated the candlewick effect using a pig carcass ,It was a very convincing explanation for SHC's with the carcass reduced to mostly ash under reasonanly low temperatures.

The total destruction of the pig took hours .

This however does not account ( I believe) for the casses of SHC which have occured in beds and on other soft furnishings which should ( over such a long period of time ) catch fire.

In the docuentary it was also revealed that SHC is actually quite a common phenomenon . With one fireman who had attended at least 3 incedences in his career . Unfortunately the cases are hard to follow up because it is hard to find a coroner willing to list a death as caused by spontaneus Human Combustion and most are just recorded as Accidental , and of course very few people really do like to admit to believing in things that just don't seem normal .

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even though people use the candlewick effect as an explanation for SHC, it still does not fully explain it, the candlewick effect takes too long, (up to an hour) and also it does not destroy the candle, it only reduced the outside of it to ash, the inside was only burnt, in SHC the body is usually, completely turned to ash, with only an appendage usually a leg left.

The surroundings do get burnt, but not to the degree that you would think as a result of the fire, for instance a wooden rocking chair would only have the part that was touched burnt and this would not always be completely ruined. things close by are generally not affected.

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most cases of SHC occur in a room with the door closed. this, along with the 'candle wick' theory explain most of the occurrances. from what ive read, the oxygen supply is depleted quickly, leaving only a small intense fire that burns until it consumes the fatty tissue fuels- usually why just feet remain. often, the rooms are coated with a greasy deposit from the fat burning. the fat being the primary fuel, things around the body are barely burned at all.

if someone shows me a type 2 SHC on tape, i might believe it. otherwise, i don't believe its possible.

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Al the candlewick experiment done with the pork chop which is the one most people have heard off did only reduce the outside of the chop to ash , allthough the experiment I saw on the documentary was a ver convincing explanation to SHC's . Dshwartz is right the closed doors doors do help to keep the fire low and the body slowly dries out while the fatty tisues on the outside continue to burn .

Although SHC is a very interesting topic and I would love to see some examples posted on to this thread if any body has any .

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This is probably the most famous photo it is of the remains of Dr John Irving Bentley, in 1966.

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Here is another photo of shc

post-13-1040414070.jpg

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Classic photo of SHC Althalus. I too saw a program on SHC with the pig carcass shaowing the Candlewick theory, with every example of SHC on the program there was always a source of ignition near by as in your picture the body is in the fireplace so the person may well have collaped and landed in the fire and that's how they caught fire.

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Possibly, but there was one case that had an old man sitting in a chair by a fire. SHC happened to him, and the verdict was that he had got up from the chair slipped and burnt himself in the fire, but he then got vback up and sat down in the chair as if nothing had happened.

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