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Karlis

Man died from spontaneous human combustion

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A man who burnt to death in his own home died from spontaneous human combustion in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in Ireland. arrow3.gifRead more...
Irishman died from spontaneous human combustion, inquest finds.

By Brian McDonald

Friday, 23 September 2011

A man who burnt to death in his own home died from spontaneous human combustion in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in Ireland.

Michael Faherty (76) -- also known as Micheal O Fatharta -- died as a result of the phenomenon, spontaneous human combustion, according to west Galway coroner Dr Kieran McLoughlin.

He said it was the first time in his 25 years of investigating deaths that he had returned such a verdict.

An experienced garda crime scene investigator and senior fire officer both told Mr Faherty's inquest in Galway that they could not explain how he came to be burnt to death. Nor had they come across such an event before.

... the only damage was to the remains, to the floor underneath him and to the ceiling above. The body had been totally burnt.

...His body had been completely cremated, and because of the extensive damage to the organs, it had not been possible to determine the cause of death.

... Dr McLoughlin said: "This fire was thoroughly investigated and I'm left with the conclusion that this fits into the category of spontaneous human combustion, for which there is no adequate explanation."

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Weird, always wondered how that worked.

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I wonder how many cases have been officially ruled to be spontaneous combustion?

I hate to hear of anyone dying, especially if it may have been very painful, but even being Irish it's difficult for me not to think of Irish jokes as to what may have fueled the flames.

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Quite a remarkable admission by the coroner.The family were satisfied a great shame.I'd have asked for another coroner.

The body was found near an open fire source..stood warming the backs of his legs in polyester trousers,case closed.

Sure SHC will satisfy all the crazies...but it's a demonstration of complete foolishness.

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Well I am ok,my house heating is with radiators. I am the same age as the Irishman.I shall make a point of wearing non inflamable clothes next guy fawks night.

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Quite a remarkable admission by the coroner.The family were satisfied a great shame.I'd have asked for another coroner.

The body was found near an open fire source..stood warming the backs of his legs in polyester trousers,case closed.

Sure SHC will satisfy all the crazies...but it's a demonstration of complete foolishness.

How about the obvious explanation.

If he burnt to death and there is no evidence of fire at the property then he didnt burn to death there but has been planted there.

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Lol....wish people would think before posting.

There was very real evidence of a fire..namely the smouldering corpse still sizzling when help arrived.

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Lol....wish people would think before posting.

There was very real evidence of a fire..namely the smouldering corpse still sizzling when help arrived.

I see the word sizzling and I think BACON!!! But you are right there was a heat source so who knows. It has been suggested that wearing the right clothes under the right conditions add a spark of static electricity and you turn into puff the magic dragon.

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wonder how quick it takes to die via spontaneous combustion (if that was really the case here); considering it starts from the inside out hopefully it was over quickly for him.

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@Michelle It's not really funny to laugh about death. although that comment just made my day!

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I've always been fascinated with this phenomenon. The official report says the body was totally consumed and the other damage was limited to the floor beneath the body and the ceiling above it. When a person is cremated at a crematorium, the specifics needed to reduce the body to ash are pretty well known. Most crematoriums operate at a temperature range of 1598F-1796F. No fireplace could have reached this temperature and certainly would have consumed the rest of the building if it did. That's why the report mentions the lack of accelerants. The rule of thumb in a modern crematory is on average, one hour for every 100lbs of body weight. For a naturally occurring fire to turn this man's body completely to ashes it would have needed to burn very hot for an extended period of time. In most fires where the entire building is consumed, any bodies within are charred but intact. When fire is used to try and cover up a murder, there is plenty of evidence left on the remains to find the true cause of death. Baffling when they happen but there are well documented cases that show circumstances just like this one. There's a number of theories as to why this happens and while it's a rare phenomenon, it's kind of weird to think you can be sitting on the couch watching TV and whoosh.

Edited by susieice

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This only happens to people who are alone.

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Here is a link to a site that tells some SHC stories.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/unexplained-phenomena/shc.htm

Here's another link. Not all of these people were alone, some only for a minute or two. Not long enough to burn as quickly as they did for no obvious reason.

http://www.sott.net/articles/show/133945-Spontaneous-Human-Combustion-Eye-witness-cases-in-more-detail

Edited by susieice

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I wonder how many cases have been officially ruled to be spontaneous combustion?

I hate to hear of anyone dying, especially if it may have been very painful, but even being Irish it's difficult for me not to think of Irish jokes as to what may have fueled the flames.

Yes indeed. Spontaneous combustion victimes are always alone, never naked and frequently do have elevated blood alcohol. As 'fringe' as it sounds, the phenomenon does exist for a fact and occurs all over the world, albeit rarely. Most plausible explanations include becoming semi-comatose through drink and/or drugs and starting a local surface burn by dropping a lit cigarette, etc. The skin ruptures and some fat is released which soaks into the clothing where it burns as from a wick. That in turn increases the heat so that more fat is exuded and the body effectively renders itself and incinerates itself.

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I don't understand how the "spontaneous combustion" answer was arrived at. As I remember it is only a consideration when there is no other source of ignition found at the scene. In this case there was a fire in the fireplace. That should automatically rule out SC. But it doesn't make nearly as good a headline.

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Yes indeed. Spontaneous combustion victimes are always alone, never naked and frequently do have elevated blood alcohol. As 'fringe' as it sounds, the phenomenon does exist for a fact and occurs all over the world, albeit rarely. Most plausible explanations include becoming semi-comatose through drink and/or drugs and starting a local surface burn by dropping a lit cigarette, etc. The skin ruptures and some fat is released which soaks into the clothing where it burns as from a wick. That in turn increases the heat so that more fat is exuded and the body effectively renders itself and incinerates itself.

Unfortunately, thousands of people have died because they fell asleep while smoking a cigarette. Drunk or sober, it results in a normal fire. Forensics comes in and the cause is apparent. Sadly tens of thousands of people die in fires every year yet the body is not consumed like in the cases that are presented as SHC. Fireplaces cause normal fires all the time also. Why are these SHC cases so unusual if the human body can act like it's own wick? No matter how you look at it, it takes intense temperatures and at least a few hours to cremate a human body. And that's if it's enclosed in something. You will fry like a piece of bacon as your body fat is melted and consumed, but it doesn't happen in a matter of minutes.

Edited by susieice

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@Michelle It's not really funny to laugh about death. although that comment just made my day!

I guess my family has a weird sense of humor. During a wake for a loved one we usually end up telling jokes and funny stories about them so it ends up being more of a roast, which is an oh so inappropriate term to use in this thread.

Yes indeed. Spontaneous combustion victimes are always alone, never naked and frequently do have elevated blood alcohol. As 'fringe' as it sounds, the phenomenon does exist for a fact and occurs all over the world, albeit rarely. Most plausible explanations include becoming semi-comatose through drink and/or drugs and starting a local surface burn by dropping a lit cigarette, etc. The skin ruptures and some fat is released which soaks into the clothing where it burns as from a wick. That in turn increases the heat so that more fat is exuded and the body effectively renders itself and incinerates itself.

CSI did an interesting show on how that could work. It still doesn't explain the oddities of SHC.

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Some people have supposely survived SHC (or made it up)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Angel_(SHC)

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This only happens to people who are alone.

I saw a story a while ago about an older man who was beggining to spontaneously combust, his wife was with him, and according to her, his whole body literally started to smoke. She said she began to throw cold water on him and it stopped. Who knows if it's a true story, but why would old people really have much reason to lie? There wasn't any money in it for them that I know of, maybe there was, dunno. Was interesting though. I will see if I can find the video. :tu:

Edited by Spid3rCyd3

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I saw a story a while ago about an older man who was beggining to spontaneously combust, his wife was with him, and according to her, his whole body literally started to smoke. She said she began to throw cold water on him and it stopped. Who knows if it's a true story, but why would old people really have much reason to lie? There wasn't any money in it for them that I know of, maybe there was, dunno. Was interesting though. I will see if I can find the video. :tu:

Maybe he dropped his cigarette.

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The human body does make and does have the ability to make chemicals. If this SHC phenom is real I would say it is due to a very rare chemical imbalance. Chemical fires burn fast and hot given the right mix although some chemical fires can burn slow and long. Interesting non the less that the human body could possibly create the right chemical mix and have it ignite.

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How about the obvious explanation.If he burnt to death and there is no evidence of fire at the property then he didnt burn to death there but has been planted there.

... the only damage was to the remains, to the floor underneath him and to the ceiling above. The body had been totally burnt. ...His body had been completely cremated, and because of the extensive damage to the organs, it had not been possible to determine the cause of death. ...

There was...I am guessing the "anomaly" is that it was hot enough to destroy a body, burn a carpet/flooring and damage a ceiling but not burn the building down.

There has been some explanations concerning low heat ignitions that kill the victim and then their body fat melts and burns...I think they call it the "candle wick effect" or something like that...keeps the fire contained to a small area and having a direct fuel source, it does not grow or spread...

who knows though...

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Well, being Irish and all he was probably particularly flammable... if ya know what I mean ;)

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