Spontaneous Human Combustion
Also Candle Wick Effect, SHC
Phenomenon in which an individual is thought to spontaneously ignite and burn to death in a very hot, intense and quick fire that reduces the victim to cinders while leaving other items in the same room untouched. Several cases of spontaneous human combustion have been reported over the years including that of Mary Reeser whose remains were discovered on the morning of July 2nd 1951 in her home with her furniture unharmed by the blaze. The term can also refer to rare cases where an individual is actually witnessed to catch fire with no apparant cause.
In centuries gone by the phenomenon was attributed to divine intervention, black magic or other metaphysical or ritualistic afflictions. One more recent theory is the so-called 'candle wick effect', experiments carried out on the body of a pig showed that if a body wrapped in clothing is set on fire under certain circumstances the clothing can act as a candle wick and the fat of the victim like the wax, producing an intense but highly localised fire that reduces the victim to ashes without setting anything else on fire.
Related entries: Candle Wick Effect
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