Spontaneous human combustion or SHC is a term used to explain reported cases of combustion of a living or in some cases, a very recently deceased human body without any apparent source for ignition. Examples of this phenomenon have appeared in literature as well.
Forensic investigations and analyses of reported cases have suggested potential causes, factors and mechanisms, including victim behavior and habits, alcohol consumption and proximity to potential sources of ignition. Unverified natural phenomena have been proposed. Current scientific consensus is that most, if not all, cases of SHC involve external ignition sources that might have been overlooked.
In one mysterious case of SHC, 58-year old retired firefighter George Mott was found, in his bed frame, reduced to ashes! The mattress had also been incinerated, but other than that, the room was intact.
The tragic day was March 26, 1986. George’s son, Kendall, visited him and found all the windows browned and the interior smoked. The front doorknob was very hot when he tried to open it.
When Kendall did manage to get inside, the terrible sight frightened him. A rib, an inexplicably shrunken skull, a few splinters of bone and ash-these were the remains of his father’s body.
Investigators thought that the fire was caused by a gas leak or an electrical arc that came out of an outlet. Mott was known to be a smoker and a drinker, and some believe this habit of his could have been his undoing.
George, who had lung problems required the use of an oxygen mask and air pump to breathe, but was not wearing the mask at the time of the fire.
Furthermore matches were found next to the oxygen machine and none of them had ignited.
His family disagree that alcoholism and smoking had led to his demise, and believe that localized damage is to blame.
The exact cause of his untimely death is yet to be explained.