Man spontaneously combusts

London's Evening Standard reports that a man burst into flames in a Haringey street before horrified onlookers, and investigators can find no cause for the fire.

Passers-by saw John Nolan, 70, ablaze in a street in Haringey in the middle of the day and attempted to put out the flames before calling police and fire crews. The former construction worker, who was originally from County Mayo in Ireland, was taken to a specialist hospital but died later. Today detectives said his death was being treated as unexplained. There were no accelerants found on his body and specialist fire investigators could find no obvious reason for Mr Nolan to catch alight.

I was terrified of spontaneous human combustion as a kid. Not combusting myself, but of those creepy scenes from Time Life books about spontaneous human combustion, where there's just a burned-out chair and half an old lady's leg, with nothing else touched but by smoke and a yellow film of melted human fat. The wick effect is widely held to explain circumstances such as those, but it seems inadequate for examples such as Nolan. Arson or suicide seem equally unlikely: he was a well-liked, quiet Irishman close to home in a safe part of London. Read the rest