‘Spontaneous Combustion’ Blamed in Man’s Death ... Wait, That Can Happen?!?


fireScoff if you must at the idea of spontaneous human combustion, the evidence in favor of the phenomenon is out there -- just ask 65-year-old Danny Vanzandt of Muldrow of Oklahoma. Oh wait, you can't! Because Danny Muldrow spontaneously combusted, that's why. Seriously, there's no other explanation for his death. According to Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart, when officers found Muldrow, "the body was burned and it was incinerated," but strangely, "there was no damage to the furniture or anything around the fire." An autopsy ruled out the possibility of homicide, and while Muldrow was a smoker, Lockhart says there's no way an accidental cigarette burn could incinerate a human body. So what's left? Spontaneous combustion (maybe), says Lockhart:

"I think there's only about 200 cases worldwide [of spontaneous human combustion] and I'm not saying this happened. I'm just saying that we haven't ruled it out."

Nor should they, considering Muldrow's case shows all the trademark signs shared by most suspected spontaneous human combustions:

Victims are almost completely incinerated, though certain extremities -- often parts of the legs, feet, and/or hands -- sometimes remain intact (rarely, internal organs are left untouched, even as the outsides of the body are completely burned!).

Victims are found in rooms showing no signs of a fire except for an occasional "greasy residue" on walls or a small area of scorched carpet or floor directly under the body.

As for what causes spontaneous human combustion, no one knows -- but theories abound, from a build-up of methane gas in the intestines to a build-up of static electricity inside the body to tiny explosions caused by a sub-atomic particle known as a pyroton.

Other recent, notable, suspected spontaneous combustions include that of 76-year-old Michael Faherty, who burned to death in his home in Ireland in a fire that had no apparent cause AND only damaged the ceiling above him and the floor beneath him -- as well as an unidentified man who allegedly burst into flames watching porn in a San Francisco sex shop (he survived).

No comment on that last one.

Do you believe in spontaneous human combustion?


Image via zoutedrop/Flickr

fire, in the news, supernatural


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tuffy... tuffymama

I remember reading about SHC when I was in school, and IIRC, most victims were smokers, and cell damage combined with some weird electrical thing as a cause was a hypothesis. That was a long time ago, and the stuff I saw was old at that time, so maybe smoking has nothing to do with it and was just a coincidence, since more people smoked back then. It's really gross and scary. Don't all victims live alone/are alone when it happens?

nonmember avatar Lilo

We think this happened to a older family friend last summer. He was a smoker. The chair, the desk, and everything else was pretty much okay. Autopsy was inconclusive. His live-in girlfriend found him (she was doing yardwork), tried to put out the fire, but he was already dead. It was very creepy.

nonmember avatar LarryArnold

As one who has pursued this amazing and rare phenomenon for decades, let us answer Tuffymama by saying all victims do not live alone, nor alone when their bodies go up in smoke (or worse). Cases are witnessed, tho the naysayers don't like discussing this aspect of SHC.

To Lilo, plz contact us. Google Larry Arnold, ParaScience International, and SHC and u shuld find us.

Yes, SHC is creepy. Also worthy of documentation, as the extreme cases define a new category of burn injury.

Dave Latham

I have documented at least 300 cases of SHC to date from the year 1000 it was possibly around earlier than that date.

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