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Flame on—spontaneous human combustion

A recent rash of news articles has focused on the strange case of the nine-day-old child of Karna Perumal, an agricultural labourer, and his wife Rajeswari from T. Parangini in Villuppuram district of Tamil Nadu. According to some, this baby was a victim of Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC), a condition where a person bursts into flames, apparently without any external cause. This incident is, understandably, controversial, so I’m not going to focus on it today, but it’s not the only case of SHC to get attention. Here is video of a case involving a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran who survived an incident when his feet burst into flames.

The idea of SHC began appearing in fiction as early as 1834. Charles Dickens even used the concept in his story Bleak House.

Does this really happen? We’re honestly not sure. It’s just another weird mystery in our wonderfully weird world!

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