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No. 56: Mar-Apr 1988

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Not The Normal Type Of Fire

December 5, 1987. Greensboro, Maryland. A man was attempting to light a propane stove, when his clothes caught fire. He died in a curious manner.

"The Dec. 5 was unusual because it burned half of the man's body and the floor directly beneath him but nothing else in the house."

Bob Thomas, the deputy state fire marshal, stated:

"This is not the normal type of fire we see when someone's clothes catch on fire."

Thomas thought that it was not spontaneous human combustion (SHC) because the entire body was not consumed. (Anonymous; "Spontaneous Combustion Debunked in Man's Death." Baltimore Sun, p. 2B. January 10, 1988,)

Comment. Actually, in some cases of supposed SHC, a portion of the body, a good perhaps, may survive. The very localized burning is also typical of "classical" SHC.

Reference. Spontaneous human combustion is cataloged in BHC7 in: Biological Anomalies: Humans II. For a description of this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #56, MAR-APR 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987