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Home > Reports: Browse Type > Spontaneous Human Combustion

SHC across the Isles


Location: Aberdeen (Aberdeenshire) - Constitution Street
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 19 February 1888
Further Comments: The remains of an aging soldier were discovered in a barn along this road; much of the body had been reduced to ash, though the face could be recognised. The bales of straw surrounding him failed to catch fire.

Thomas Williams

Location: Aberporth (Dyfed) - Unidentified cottage
Type: SHC
Date / Time: November 1808
Further Comments: Human combustion, but in this case not so spontaneous. A sailor who liked his rum, Thomas Williams fell unconscious after a drinking session. His friend summoned a doctor who arrived after dark. The attending physician held a candle close to Thomas, who promptly caught light, bathed in blue flame. A bucket of water thrown over the fire only made the flames larger. The witnesses all left (for reasons not fully explained) and returned the following morning to find Thomas's torso completely consumed, but his shirt only charred. Thomas's friends said that he had been wicked and that the devil had come for him.

First Irish Case?

Location: Ballybane (County Galway) - Private residence, Clareview Park
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 22 December 2010
Further Comments: The BBC reported that Dr Ciaran McLoughlin, West Galway coroner, had recorded a verdict of spontaneous combustion in a case he had investigated. The body of Michael Faherty had been found in his living room, totally burnt, although damage to the rest of the room was minimal.

Fire Dancer

Location: Chelmsford (Essex) - Unknown dance hall
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 27 August 1938
Further Comments: As Phyllis Newcombe (22) left the dance floor, her dress burst into flame, and she died a few hours later in hospital. Tests showed that her clothing could not be ignited with a cigarette.


Location: Colchester (Essex) - Mill Street
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 19 February 1888
Further Comments: The body of a soldier was discovered in a hay loft, much of his corpse charred by fire, but the surrounding area untouched by the flames. His legs and boots were also undamaged.

Mrs Stout

Location: Cootehill (County Cavan) - Unknown property
Type: SHC
Date / Time: Circa 1785
Further Comments: Mrs Stout was seen going to bed, apparently fine, but found dead the following morning. Her body was heavily burnt, with parts not altered by fire crumbling when touched. Her nightdress remained undamaged by the fire. An inquest determined she had 'died by the visitation of God'.

Untouched Armchair

Location: Ebbw Vale (Gwent) - Council house, exact location unknown
Type: SHC
Date / Time: January 1980
Further Comments: The body of a seventy two year old was found reduced to ash, leaving only a pair of feet in socks, a soot covered skull, and an undamaged armchair in which most of the remains sat...

Barry Soudaine

Location: Folkestone (Kent) - Flat along Canterbury Road
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 27 December 1987
Further Comments: Barry Soudaine was found his kitchen, only a foot and a trainer remaining amongst a pile of ash. Some plastic fittings in the kitchen had melted, but there was not serious fire damage. The coroner recorded an open verdict regarding the death.

Elizabeth Clark

Location: Hull (Yorkshire) - Trinity Almshouse
Type: SHC
Date / Time: January 1905
Further Comments: Elizabeth Clark spent the night here and was discovered in the morning covered in heinous burns which later claimed her life. No one heard any noises during the night, and although covered in the ash from her nightdress, the bed itself was not scorched.

Torso Reduced to Ash

Location: Ipswich (Suffolk) - St Clement, Ipswich
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 1744
Further Comments: Grace Pett's burnt body was discovered in her house; other people living there were not aware of the fire that had killed her during the night.

Blackened Remains

Location: Nairn (Highland) - Area close to Hardmuir Wood
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 29 July 1852
Further Comments: The charred remains of John Anderson could only be recognised by the horses and cart found by his body. One witness said that John had fallen from his cart while burning, his horses remaining still, and that the fire had been extinguish with buckets of water within fifteen minutes of starting. The doctor who performed the autopsy believed the fire to be 'no ordinary combustion'.

Annie Webb

Location: Newport (Gwent) - Private house along Corporation Street
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 2 February 1980
Further Comments: When Annie was found, only a pair of legs, piece of arm and skull remained. A white tablecloth lay untouched nearby.

Mrs Carpenter Bursts into Flame

Location: Norfolk Broads (Norfolk) - Norfolk Broads
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 29 (or 30) July 1938 (or 1937)
Further Comments: While enjoying a boating holiday, Mrs Carpenter burst into flame and was reduced to a charred corpse.

Combusting Cat

Location: Outer London: Stanmore (Greater London) - Anmer Lodge nursing home
Type: SHC
Date / Time: January 1987
Further Comments: Peppi the cat enjoyed life at the nursing home, before exploding into blue flame with a bang and a flash. If the story is true, then Peppi could be a rare example of Spontaneous Feline Combustion.

Body in the Basement

Location: Reading (Berkshire) - Private house along Baker Street
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 12 November 1978
Further Comments: A young daughter found her mother burnt to death in the basement - some witnesses described the body as charred, while the room itself was barely touched.

Robert Francis Bailey

Location: SE11 (Greater London) - 49 Auckland Street, Lambeth
Type: SHC
Date / Time: September 1967
Further Comments: This homeless man's burning body was found in an empty building, blue flame still coming from his charred body. It was though Robert was still alive when he combusted, as his teeth were dug deep into a wooden stair banister pole.

Human Fireball

Location: Widnes (Cheshire) - Halton College
Type: SHC
Date / Time: 1985
Further Comments: A girl walking down the stairs with a group of friends suddenly burst into flame. They quickly beat the flames out, but she later died of her injuries.

Records 1 - 17 of 17

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