For as yet scientifically unknown reasons, times occur when an unsuspecting person can just burst into flames and be incinerated. This is referred to in the scientific world as Spontaneous Human Combustion or SHC. There are many documented cases throughout history. The earliest cases go as far back as the early 16th century. Then there are the ones that are as recent as 1998 but have no better explanation of what happen then the ones in the 16th century did. There are truly only two types of cases: fatal and non-fatal. The fatal cases of SHC represent three-quarters of all the reported incidents. The most common of these cases is the famous "bedroom burnings" in which a victim is found as a pile of ashes with only limbs remaining. These burnings a characterized by five main features: 1) The victim's body and clothing is mostly reduced to ash. 2) Small portions of the body (an arm, a foot, maybe the head) remain unburned. 3) Only objects immediately associated with the body have burned; the fire never spread away from the body. 4) A greasy soot deposit covers the ceiling and walls, usually stopping three to four feet above the floor. 5) Objects above this three to four foot line show signs of heat damage (melted candles, cracked mirrors, etc.); objects below this line show o damage.
These cases are the ones that mass media tend to cover most and is what most people think of when they hear about spontaneous human combustion. Nearly half of the cases are "bedroom burnings"
Another common case under the fatal category are the witnessed combustions, in which people are actually seen by witnesses to burst into flames. Most of the time witnesses claim that there was no other source of ignition and/or the flames were seen to come directly from the victim's skin. These cases present the fact that maybe SHC has more to do with the supernatural than science. Unfortunately, most of theses cases are poorly documented and usually unconfirmed.
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