who thought that spontaneous human combustion is real?




No really, you can't make this up. Despite being thoroughly debunked over the years, this guy is convinced something unusual is happening!

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"The fire had been confined to the sitting room. The only damage was to the body, which was totally burnt, the ceiling above him and the floor underneath him."

I recall seeing an interesting special on public broadcasting about SHC.  What is described is typical of these cases.

A person falls unconscious or dies in an enclosed room, and the clothes catch fire (cigarette or, in this case, probably a spark from the fireplace).  The flames use up most of the oxygen in the room, so the flames die down, but don't go out completely - they just burn very slowly.  So there's little damage to the surrounding room, but because of the low flame, the body burns almost completely.

It's called the Wick Effect - which is ironic since there is a county in Ireland with that very name (spelled differently).


Perhaps this guy should be sent there as penance for this ludicrous abandonment of science.

I just discovered there's a wikipedia article for wick effect.

The body fat melts into clothing fabric, which can burn like a candle for hours. I'm not sure about the scientific principle but I think the cotton turns completely into carbon while retaining its structure like a kerosene lamp wick.



The wick doesn't burn because it conducts the potentially combustible material (fat) which is vaporised by the heat - the vapour burns, but the liquid does not and that stops the material from being consumed. Much the same thing happens in a wax candle. The balance is delicate, of course, but it happens often enough to see that this is what's going on.


This was done with a pig carcass some years ago and the burn takes many, many hours but the localised heating does not burn much around it. It's interesting stuff but not very magical - this coroner should consider his position.



Jayzus, sure anyone would know that if you had enough Jameson's in your system you'd be very likely to combust. There should be a warning on the bottle: do not smoke when shitfaced on this stuff.




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