Spontaneous Human Combustion: A Burning Mystery

For some time, people have debated whether or not human beings could spontaneously combust, or burst into flames, without an external heat source. However, over the past 300 years, there have been more than 200 reports of such incidents occurring. This phenomenon is called Spontaneous Human Combustion (or SHC) and it occurs when a person supposedly burns to death by a fire believed to have started from within the body of that person.  Of the hundreds of accounts on record, there seems to be a similar pattern.

A solitary victim is often consumed by flame, usually inside his or her home. However, the extremities, such as the hands, feet, or parts of the leg often remaining intact. The torso and head are charred beyond recognition and, in rare cases, the internal organs of a victim remain unscathed.

The room the victim was in usually shows little to no signs of fire, aside from a greasy residue left on furniture and walls. Often there is a sweet, smoky smell in the room where the incident has occurred.