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No. 61: Jan-Feb 1989

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A Truly Fortean House

A host of Fortean forces descended upon a house in Orland Hills, Illinois, in 1988.

"Once, a blue flame an inch in diameter shot out of a wall socket for more than 30 seconds, and the outlet still worked. That incident was witnessed by two police officers. Another time, a similar flame set a mattress afire while investigators were prowling outside.

"In all, there were 26 separate incidents, all of them witnessed by either police or fire investigators...

"'I was there one night when the room was filled with a white haze. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face,' Smith said. 'There was a strong sulfur smell and my eyes were burning. I took a sample (of the vapor) in a vacuum canister. We came up with nothing.'

"Neither did engineers, chemists and geologists."

Understandably, the occupants of this hexed house had moved out long ago with such goings-on. Teams of experts ruled out arson, natural gas, methane leaks, sewer gas, and electrical malfunctions. The house was finally bulldozed in October 1988.

(Elsner, David; "Bulldozers Lay House to Rest," Chicago Tribune, October 16, 1988. Cr. K. Fabian. Also: Anonymous; "Strange Phenomena Force Bulldozing of House," Lorain (Ohio) Journal, October 16, 1988. Cr. J.K. Wagner. Also: Anon-ymous; "Mists, Fires in Dwelling Defy Logic," Oregonian, October 26, 1988. Cr. R. Byrd.)

From Science Frontiers #61, JAN-FEB 1989. 1989-2000 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