News out of Flensburg, Germany today reports that a woman sitting on a park bench experienced “spontaneous combustion” and has died. As usual, the connection to SHC (spontaneous human combustion) is flawed and there is undoubtedly more to the story than the media reports. However, the headlines are what get attention and lead people to think there is something mysterious about the incident. What IS mysterious, so far, is what really happened. But the media has chosen to take a mystery mongering angle and that is being spread around.
Here is the report from Yahoo news:
A Mauritius-born woman, who apparently burst into flames due to ‘spontaneous human combustion’ as she sat on a park bench in Germany, has died. A horrified passerby attempted to smother the flames with his jacket. The woman – thought to be in her 40s – was rushed to a local hospital by air ambulance to Lubeck with severe burns, but could not be saved.
So the suggestion is that she died from burns. The odd part is that she made no sound according to witnesses as she was on fire. There is speculation that it was suicide or that she was stabbed and then set on fire in an attack. But there is no conclusion made so far as the investigation continues. In either situation, or if it was the result of something else, the idea that she mysteriously erupted in flames, as many of these stories suggest, is incorrect. The media pieces include a discussion of the wick effect where people burn to ash in a closed environment. That is not this at all.
There have been cases where cigarettes, chemical, or electronics have caused burns on people. Those are more likely explanations here. When people are found in their homes burned, we frequently hear of sleeping pills, alcohol or health problems involved.
As this story gets passed around using the SHC tag, do your part in the comments to clarify that she either caught fire or was set on fire but did not “spontaneously” erupt in fire. As with most cases of SHC, a probable cause may be obvious after all the facts are in.
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