Man's Death By Spontaneous Human Combustion Makes My Day

flamesI'm not sure when exactly I developed an obsession with spontaneous human combustion, but more on that later. Anyway, due to my long-standing fascination, you could say I'm something of an expert on the phenomenon (you could also say I'm an elephant. Who's stopping you?). And that's how I know the coroner who recently ruled the death of a 76-year-old man to be spontaneous combustion was right.

Foul play? Bah. Sure, "spontaneous combustion" has been the go-to excuse in organized crime for decades (Yeah, he just blew up! Poof! Whaddya mean, gas can? I don't see any gas can!), but this was the real thing.

All the signs of genuine spontaneous combustion were there ...


Michael Faherty burned to death in his home in Ireland in a fire that had no apparent cause AND was contained to Faherty's body and the area immediately surrounding it. Only the ceiling above him and the floor beneath him sustained damage from the flames.

Well, there you go! Just like those stories in the Mysteries of the Unexplained books my grandfather used to order from Reader's Digest. When we were bored as kids, my best friend and I would sit in the dark and read spooky excerpts from those books, flashlights shining up from under our chins. Creeeeepy. One of our favorites was called, if I remember correctly, "The Flaming Kimono," and it was about a case of spontaneous human combustion in ancient Japan. There were others, too, and according to the books, you could tell an authentic human combustion from a fake by the damage it left behind: Only the body and its immediate surroundings would be burned.

I guess it was those books, combined with This Is Spinal Tap (drummers are known for their tendency to spontaneously combust, you know), that triggered my aforementioned obsession. The X-Files can shoulder some of that responsibility, too.

I'm sorry Mr. Flaherty had to go up in smoke and all, but I am pretty psyched to hear about an officially recognized incident of spontaneous human combustion.

Wonder what else they were right about on The X-Files ...

Do you believe spontaneous human combustion can really happen?


Image via Steve Ryan/Flickr

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