Yesterday's Myths & Mysteries

Man Spontaneously Combusts In London

In September, a 70-year-old London man spontaneously combusted while walking down a street near his home, according to a report by The Telegraph.

The man, John Nolan, seemingly burst into flames while walking down a road in Haringey, suffering fatal burns, including burns to his internal organs, with no discernible cause. Investigators reported no accelerants or sources of ignition on his body, leaving everyone involved with the case dumbfounded.

According to pathologist Bernard Knight, the whole situation is “extremely peculiar,” especially because this happened outside in the open, while most other cases of spontaneous human combustion (or SHC) occur indoors.

It’s a very strange phenomenon, one with a long history of bizarre and unexplained deaths. In fact, one of the very first posts I published here was about an Irish man named Michael Faherty, also in his 70s, who spontaneously caught fire and burned alive near his fireplace in 2010. In that case, perhaps the fireplace had something to do with it, though investigators said otherwise.

In Nolan’s case, on the other hand, here we have a man who burst into flames in the middle of a road, with apparently no source of ignition. What happened?


Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. For nearly 10 years, he's managed Stranger Dimensions, providing a unique perspective on all matters involving time travel, parallel universes, and whether or not robots might one day take over the world.


    1. Good question about the animals. I’ve never really looked too deeply into SHC, but I’ve always heard theories about alcoholism possibly being involved. You might be on to something with medication. Maybe some kind of chemical reaction going on.

      1. Humans don’t exactly have a consistent and somewhat regular diet. Add in drugs and alcohol and it can create an equation for something to go wrong.

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