1988, July 20: Wheatley Hill Woman’s Fiery Accident

The Legend:

At 10:30 AM on July 20, 1988, a 71-year-old woman in Wheatley Hill, Durham, England, caught fire in her garden, but survived; her husband was burnt while trying to extinguish the fire. Police listed the cause of the fire as unknown, and the media speculated that it was a case of spontaneous human combustion, which angered the family. It is quite likely the woman's dress simply caught fire due to an external cause... but the family stopped talking to investigators once angered.


        This is the first listing of this incident in Anomalies, and therefore will require more research to confirm it. This is especially true because the above comes from Jenny Randles and Peter Hough's 1992 book, Spontaneous Human Combustion; this book gives almost no sources for the accounts it relates, in this case attributing it to "Author's own investigation"... which essentially means "Just trust us." For this reason, this account is marked as both "Unreliable" and "Investigate;" I will add new information as I get a chance to dig further.

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