There are many people, who believe that SHC was first recorded in ancient literature such as the bible, but these accounts are too old to be seen as reliable evidence. There was an early case of an Italian knight Polonius in 1470, but without hard evidence to support it. In 1613 a pamphlet called ‘Fire from Heaven” was issued by John Hillard when he tried to bring the issue of Polonius before the public.
There have been more than 200 reports over the last 300 years of people being burned to a crisp for no logical reason with the first reliable historic evidence of SHD in 1673, when Frenchman Jonas DuPont published a collection of SHD cases and studies. He decided to write a book after coming across records of the Nicole Millet case in which her husband an inn keeper in France was tried and found guilty of her murder in 1725, but the conviction was overturned based on the testimony of a physician who stayed at the inn that night and concluded that Madame Millets’ death was due to a ‘visitation of God.’
There are two common explanations to account for apparent SHC, the non spontaneous “wick effect” and a rare discharge called static flash fire. Although it has been shown that the human body contains enough energy stored in the form of fat and other tissues to consume it completely, in normal circumstances the body will not keep burning on its own accord.
There have been many theories about Spontaneous Human Combustion, with many Spontaneous Human Combustion vicitms having been alcoholics, but experiments in the 19th century demonstrated that flesh impregnated with alcohol did not burn with the intense heat associated with Spontaneous Human Combustion. There has never been a satisfactory explanation of Spontaneous Human Combustion which leaves it still an unsolved mystery.
The body of a SHC is normally more severely burned than one that has been caught in a normal fire; the extremities are usually untouched by fire, whereas the torso suffers severe burning and in some cases the torso is completely destroyed, the bones being reduced to ash. An arm, a foot, maybe the head may remain unburned, with objects immediately associated with the body being burned, but the fire never spreads away from the body. SHC victims have burnt up in bed without the bedding ever catching fire and flammable materials only inches away have remain untouched. A greasy soot has been known to leave deposits on the ceiling and walls, around the area of the body.
Although temperatures of about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit are normally required to char a body so thoroughly, a crematoria, which operates in the neighborhood of 2,000 degrees, does not completely burn the body leaving bone fragments which must be ground up. Quite often, little or nothing around the victim is damaged, except the exact spot where the body ignited. Some events of Spontaneous Human Combustion have been witnessed but most are not, with most reported cases having occurred indoors. Witnesses nearby or in adjacent rooms report never having hearing any sounds, such as cries of pain or calls for help.
Where there have been witnesses to combustions, people have actually been seen to explode into flames. Witnesses agree that there was no possible source of ignition and that the flames were seen to erupt directly from the victim. Unfortunately not many statements have been properly logged or confirmed. There have been cases, where victim has survived, but unfortunately, they have no idea of what happened to them. There are very few cases of Spontaneous Human Combustion whereby survivors can explained what happened.
Sometimes a victim will emit a mysterious smoke from their body. In these rare occurrences smoke is seen to emanate from a person, with no fire or source of smoke other than the person’s body. Over the last two centuries, a variety of explanations by doctors and scientist for SHC have been offered, ranging from scientific to paranormal, whilst others have connected it to ‘leys’ a magnetic irregularity in the Earth and UFO.
Spontaneous human combustion remains a rare phenomenon, and even among those who prefer to adopt occult interpretations, few have followed that lead. Most have accepted SHC as a natural mystery.