Feeds

Oklahoma cops rake ashes of 'spontaneous combustion' victim

Timber-framed house intact as owner goes up in flames

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Spanish village called 'Kill the Jews' mulls rebranding exercise
Not exactly attractive to the Israeli tourist demographic
Oz bank in comedy Heartbleed blog FAIL
Bank: 'We are now safely patched.' Customers: 'You were using OpenSSL?'
Happy 40th Playmobil: Reg looks back at small, rude world of our favourite tiny toys
Little men straddle LOHAN, attend tiny G20 Summit... ah, sweet memories...
Forget the beach 'n' boardwalk, check out the Santa Cruz STEVE JOBS FOUNTAIN
Reg reader snaps shot of touching tribute to Apple icon
Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest
New minifigs like Monster Fighters are turning kids to the dark side
Dark SITH LORD 'Darth Vader' joins battle to rule, er, Ukraine
Only I can 'make an empire out of a republic' intones presidential candidate
Chinese company counters pollution by importing fresh air
Citizens line up for bags of that sweet, sweet mountain air
Google asks April Fools: Want a job? Be our 'Pokemon Master'
Mountain View is prankin' like it's 1999...
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.