Spontaneous Human Combustion and Other Mysterious Fires. Unexplained
Mysteries Of the 20th Century. Janet Bord, NTC/Contemporary Publishing;
Abstract: This is a chapter from a book about unexplained mysteries.
The chapter describes several incidents in which a person spontaneously
combusted. In each case, the source of the fire is unknown or speculated
because there was no conclusive evidence. The chapter also provides forensic
theories that could explain the phenomenon, however, there is also forensic
evidence disproving every theory offered.
One instance the chapter explains involves a woman whom was last seen
relaxing in an upholstered chair smoking a cigarette. The remains of her
body were discovered hours later. Only ashes remained, with the exception
of her skull and backbone. The chair and everything in a four-foot radius
was burned. However, combustible items located outside the four foot radius
were unaffected by the fire, even the newspapers that were located one foot
from the ashes. Investigators were unable to explain how the victim's body
could have burned away to ashes. There were no traces of accelerants and
the only source of ignition was the cigarette, which seemed unlikely.
Forensic experts were called and one suggested that the heat of only
1,600 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hours was required to cremate a
human body. Another forensic expert disagreed, stating that corpses burned
for 8 hours at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit still leave recognizable bones.
A fire of this magnitude would have caused much more destruction to a larger
radius than just four feet. Neither theory was ever proved or disproved.
The chapter describes other similar spontaneous combustion cases that have
never been solved.