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No. 81: May-Jun 1992

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Shc or h/t homicide?

The possible case of SHC (Spontaneous Human Combustion) just reported above may have a rational but bizarre explanation. S.L. Wernokoff commented as follows in the Journal of Meteorology:

"The very first thing that comes to mind is whether overloaded hightension [H/T] or low-tension wires were anywhere nearby. Since this incident occurred at a roadside, nearby power lines may well have been present. If such lines are overloaded or badly insulated, fatal arcing can occur from the ground at a considerable distance from the power lines. This has happened often in our country [the U.S.], in rural areas where public utilities have quietly exceeded the capacity of their lines. The resulting discharges can easily electrocute livestock over mile from the 'leaky' H/T lines. I would wager that the Hungarian utility agencies are guilty of the same practice. Personally, I suspect that this unfortunate young man may have been electrocuted through his own urine! The 'blue light' witnessed by the victim's wife may have been St. Elmo's Fire -- an ungrounded luminous corona visible around the victim in the humid, pre-thunderstorm conditions. The hole in his heel and tennis shoe indicate where the current finally grounded itself."

Wernikoff goes on to tell of a case in Canada where a man washing up at an outdoor table, 100 yards from overhead power lines, was electrocuted when he emptied the basin onto the ground. He, too, had a hole burned through the heel of his boot! (Wernikoff, Sheldon L.; "The 'Hungarian Spontaneous Combustion' Case -- Another Explanation," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 17:22, 1992.)

Reference. Our catalog Biological Anomalies: Humans II contains a long entry (BHC7) on SHC and its evaluation by scientists. To order this book, see: here.

From Science Frontiers #81, MAY-JUN 1992. 1992-2000 William R. Corliss