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A Case of Human Combustion

In Ireland, it looks as if a man has spontaneously burned up. A coroner has ruled that a man who burned to death in his home was a victim of spontaneous human combustion. This is the first time in 25 years that an Irish court has recorded this verdict. "Spontaneous combustion" occurs when a living human body is burned without an apparent external source of ignition. Investigators find a charred body in an unburned house, with no burned furniture or other signs of a fire nearby.

There was fire in the fireplace of the room where the badly burned body of Michael Faherty, aged 76, was found on December 22nd, 2010, but forensic experts say that was not the cause of the fire. BBC News quotes West Galway coroner Ciaran McLoughlin as saying, "This fire was thoroughly investigated and I'm left with the conclusion that this fits into the category of spontaneous human combustion, for which there is no adequate explanation."

But pathologist Mike Green thinks there must be some explanation that they just haven't discovered yet. BBC News quotes him as saying, "I think if the heavens were striking in cases of spontaneous combustion then there would be a lot more cases. I go for the practical, the mundane explanation."

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