Feeds

Oklahoma cops rake ashes of 'spontaneous combustion' victim

Timber-framed house intact as owner goes up in flames

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Investigators in Oklahoma are attempting to determine just how a 65-year-old man was largely incinerated while his timber-framed house suffered minimal damage, in what the the local sheriff described as a possible case of spontaneous human combustion.

Danny VanZandt was found burning on the kitchen floor in his home between Sallisaw and Muldrow on Monday morning. There was a cigarette lighter nearby, but no evidence of an accelerant. The only peripheral damage from the fire was to the floor where the victim lay, Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart explained.

He told the Tulsa World: "You get called to the house where there's a body inside, and you expect the house to be burnt down. This house is intact. There is a stove and ice box within 3 feet from where the body's burning, and the handles are not melted."

Only VanZandt's head, hands and feet survived the fire. Lockhart said of the remains: "You could pour gasoline on somebody and he wouldn't be as badly incinerated."

The Sherriff, who formerly worked as an arson investigator with the Police Department in neighbouring Fort Smith, Arkansas, said spontaneous combustion was a possibile explanation. He insisted: "People think we are idiots, but I'm telling you this was a very unusual scene."

Following an autotopsy, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office has ordered extra toxicology tests on what's left of VanZandt, although it could be two months until a cause of death is revealed.

Spontaneous human combustion is a controversial theory to explain people suddenly going up in flames, without apparent source of ignition or other external provocation. Sceptics point to simple explantions, such as a dropped cigarette, as possible unidentified causes, but in 2011, an Irish coroner ruled that 76-year-old Michael Faherty had indeed succumbed to the mysterious syndrome.

Faherty was burned to death on his living room floor, close to an open fire, although that hadn't played a part in his demise. Garda Gerard O'Callaghan explained the "only damage was to Faherty's remains, the floor underneath him and the ceiling above", according to the Guardian. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Swiss wildlife park serves up furry residents to visitors
'It's ecological' says spokesman, now how would you like your Bambi done?
Win a year’s supply of chocolate (no tech knowledge required)
Over £200 worth of the good stuff up for grabs
Facebook's Zuckerberg in EBOLA VIRUS FIGHT: Billionaire battles bug
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contacted as site supremo coughs up
Internet finally ready to replace answering machine cassette tape
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
ePassport to Transnistria: NEXTIFYING the Nation State with BONG
Hey the Man, you can't geoblock distributed democracy
Red Bull does NOT give you wings, $13.5m lawsuit says so
Website letting consumers claim $10 cash back crashes after stampede
Down-under record: Australian gets $140k for pussy
'Tiffany' closes deal - 'it's more common to offer your wife', says agent
Trolls have DARK TETRAD of personality defects, say trickcyclists
Think psychopathy and BDSM dungeons, not desktops
The iPAD launch BEFORE it happened: SPECULATIVE GUFF ahead of actual event
Nerve-shattering run-up to the pre-planned known event
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.