Spontaneous human combustion (SHC), for those of you who don’t spend time obsessing over it as I do, is when a live or recently deceased human body catches on fire without any external ignition. As in, someone is sitting watching TV one minute, and the next they’ve gone up in flames. There a many theories as to how and why SHC occurs, none of them scientifically conclusive. One hypothesis is that SHC is related to unnaturally high blood alcohol levels. More paranormal explanations include an increased susceptibility to gamma rays or an atmospheric electrical phenomenon known as ball lightening. Many scientists don’t believe that the SHC truly exists. They claim that the fire always ignites outside the body.This is known as the “wick effect.” Needless to say, SHC is very, very rare. Wikipedia sites that there have been 200 cases reported in the last 300 years.
We can potentially make that 201. Authorities are investigating the death of 65-year-old Ohio man Danny Vanzandt, which they think may be attributed to SHC. On Monday, a neighbor called the police to report that there was smoke coming out of Vanzandt’s home. The Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart reports that they found Vanzandt’s body completely charred. There was no other fire damage to the home. Although Vanzandt was reportedly an alcoholic and a smoker, Lockhart claims he saw no evidence of external ignition. “[I've] never seen anything like it,” he said. Medical examiners are still examining Vanzandt’s remains. For now, they haven’t ruled out SHC.