Witnesses say man catching on fire was “supernatural”

This headline is slightly deceiving. For hits, I suspect.

Man wakes up on fire in Edmonton home; witnesses call it spontaneous combustion. The truth is there seems to be nothing to connect this to spontaneous HUMAN combustion. That is, people just bursting into flames for no obvious reason does not really happen.

A man suffered second degree burns to his legs, back and forehead after waking up on fire in an Edmonton home Saturday morning, with witnesses suggesting it was the result of spontaneous combustion.

The man woke up on fire and did not know why. The witnesses are claiming it was “supernatural” but the police aren’t. It’s irrational to jump to a supernatural conclusion especially when an investigation hasn’t even taken place.

Cases described as “spontaneous human combustion” typically involve alcohol, drugs, flammable material and a source of ignition like a cigarette or spark from a fireplace. There is no mention if the man had been intoxicated or smoking at the time.

People catch on fire without the need to invoke supernatural elements. This story is silly. It’s also suspicious. Why are the witnesses not providing information but resorting to a paranormal excuse?

Recall that a heavily publicized story out of Oklahoma in February of 2013 was touted by the sheriff as a potential case of SHC. The man died but there were definite clues that it was far from mysterious. An investigation showed he’d had a heart attack and slowly burned due to his garments igniting.

There have been cases of spontaneously combusting rocks and laundry. But these have a chemical cause. When an Irish woman was found burned and dead, the coroner suggested it was SHC. This also made headlines around the world. Too bad the inquest that overturned a baseless conclusion was not as publicized.

There remains NO evidence that people just burst into flames for no reason. It may take some probing but you can typically find the source. An accident, but no mystery.

More: Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) – The Skeptic’s Dictionary.

Spontaneous Human Combustion: Facts & Theories.

Spontaneous Human Combustion – Skeptoid.

Not-So-Spontaneous Human Combustion – CSI.

  2 comments for “Witnesses say man catching on fire was “supernatural”

  1. July 22, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    I had a laundry basket catch on fire. My wife had a trace of mineral spirits on her hands which she rinsed off before folding the basket full of towels from the drier. A little later I smelled smoke & there was a large red hot spot in the center of the towels. A little later & it would have reached the surface & flamed.

  2. Cheire
    July 24, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    And there lies the reason for the warnings on labels of flammable liquids… ‘Cheers!’

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