1908, March 31: Mary Hart's Combustion

In a 1964 article concerning spontaneous human combustion, author Allen W. Eckert detailed the following strange account.

        On March 31, 1908, at Whitley Bay near Blythe, England, Joan Hart discovered her invalid sister Mary sitting in a rocking chair, enveloped in flames. Joan grabbed a throw rug and quickly extinguished the flames, but her sister was badly burned and needed medical attention. With some effort, Joan got her sister upstairs to a bed, then ran for help... but when Joan returned with assistance, they all discovered that Mary had been near fully reduced to ashes on her bed; only her head and several fingers were not destroyed. The room had a coating of greasy soot throughout it, evidence of Mary's fire... yet the sheets she had been laying on were not even scorched.

False Lead. Big Time.

        This story is clearly based on the account of the death of Wilhelmina Dewar, who died of mysterious burns at Whitley Bay, England, on March 22, 1908. I can only speculate that Eckert knew some of the details of Dewar's death, and just invented details to cover where he didn't have them. In any case, the above event simply never happened.

        To learn more about Wilhelmina Dewar's fate, follow the 'See Also' link below.

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