London police investigate strange case of Spontaneous Human Combustion

Police in London are investigating a mysterious case of spontaneous human combustion, after a man burst into flames in the middle of a London street.


spontaneous human combustion
70 year old former construction worker John Nolan

John Nolan, a 70 year old Irish man, was walking down a street in Haringey in North London on September 17 2017 when, according to reports, he spontaneously caught fire. Police and fire services were called to the scene in Orchard Place, Haringey but by then it was too late to save him.

“His face and head were swollen and his hair was burnt off, it was really horrible stuff,” says Mr Nolan’s nephew, Kevin Byrne,

Detectives investigating the strange case say the cause of Nolan’s death is unexplained. No flammable objects were found on him and specialist fire investigators could find no reason for why the former construction worker from County Mayo caught fire and died.  The unexplained case is still open and the police are appealing for more witnesses.

“We have spoken with a number of witnesses who saw Mr Nolan ablaze, but we have yet to establish how the fire started.  Says PC Damien Ait-Amer who is investigating the case. “Mr Nolan was a well-liked member of the community and none of our enquiries so far have indicated that he had been involved in a dispute of any sort. Nor does any account given by witnesses suggest that he had been in contact with another person at the time of the fire.”

weird news
Orchard Road, North London, where the pensioner spontaneously ignited.

Spontaneous Human combustion is an unexplained phenomenon but experts believe it may be possible, in very rare occasions, for a body to ignite from the inside.

Bernard Knight, a pathologist who conducted over 20,000 autopsies for the UK government believes the strange case will be solved.

“For someone to walk out onto the streets and just burst into flames is extremely peculiar,” he told The Daily Telegraph.“In the course of my career I saw maybe three or four cases of so-called spontaneous combustion, but they were all indoors near an open fireplace. In once case the body had burnt through the floor.” He added: “This is very unusual because it took place outside, but a failure to find a cause does not mean there isn’t one.”

News sources:  Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph

The Freaky always fact checks its stories and never knowingly publishes untrue stories.

Click for more weird news stories.


8 Replies to “London police investigate strange case of Spontaneous Human Combustion”

  1. Klevonderno says:

    Spontaneous combustion is nonsense. Humans are made of stuff that doesn’t spontaneously combust.

  2. StrangePaul says:

    This isn’t a new thing Charles Dickens wrote about spontaneous combustion in Bleak House in 1852. All that was left of Mr Krook was a pile of ash.

  3. DannScott42 says:

    I wrote this on Reddit but I know a fireman, who worked with my dad, who believes he saw a case of spontaneous combustion in the Chicago area in 1979.

    The circumstances were they were called for heavy smoke and possible fire in a men’s rooming house (weekly rent hotelish/apartment) and when they got there they found smoldering remains of a man. The guy was presumably a smoker and heavy drinker from the surroundings. All that was left was bone and feet basically. The surroundings, well torched, smoldered but didn’t burn. The fire was out by the time they got there, having burned itself out.

    Now, I don’t know. Officially, the fire I believe was ruled as suspicious and likely arson and was considered a homicide. As I could tell, and I did some research way back when at a library because I didnt believe this guy, nothing came of it. My dad, also a fireman and friend of this guy who worked elsewhere, was skeptical but open to the possibility.

    I’ve read stuff about the wick effect and how certain people of a certain body type and habit (drinker/smoker) may be at risk, but it’s extremely rare and assumes an outside ignition source, mostly cigarettes. Cigarettes and alcohol, from most of the the suspected cases I have read about, are almost always present in these situations.

    I also read something, maybe I can dig it out, about a rare genetic disorder that creates a flammable chemical in the body and that might be responsible. Apparently, if I recall right, a child had been hospitalized for burn injuries when it was found he had a high concentrate of some chemical in his system that was flammable. It was naturally occurring and causing the burns. So something along those lines might be similar.

    There is probably some explanation for it, but I tend to believe that whatever it is, it’s not truly “spontaneous” in that there likely is some outside ignition source, combined with rare and very favorable fire conditions, that causes this to happen.

  4. A while back listened to a very informative podcast about this phenomenon . wish I had bookmarked it on youtube. Anyway, two common denominators of these cases besides were static electricity and that many victims are also smokers.

  5. I love these type of stories. I remember reading about Spontaneous Human Combustion in a magazine as a kid. I found it fascinating. I think the magazine was called The Unexplained.

  6. Poor man. I hope he didn’t suffer too much pain. Burning alive is meant to be one of the most awful ways to die. RIP

  7. Graham333 says:

    There’s probably some logical explanation for it, like he dropped a cigarette in his clothing, but everyone loves a mystery don’t they?

  8. LorraineG says:

    It’s like something out of the X Files!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.