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Saturday 1 February 2014

Flames Roaring Out of Her Mouth

In this present-day know-it-all scientific age, a woman can erupt into flame in the full view of witnesses and her body be ravaged with flames while sitting on newspapers in a chair and neither the papers nor the chair suffer any fire damage, and the facts will be denied in a coroner's court because such things cannot be.
     That comment came from page 185 of The Entrancing Flame by John E. Heymer (Little, Brown and Company, 1996). I had finally got around to reading it, and it took me by surprise. For those unfamiliar with the concept, spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a phenomenon assumed to have taken place because the victims are burned to ashes without any obvious source of fire, and with the damage limited to the body and the seat to which it was attached, and everything else in the room being untouched - including the victim's legs, which are presumed to have been out of the circle of combustion. But this was the first time I was aware that the phenomenon had been actually witnessed.