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1800 (pre): Fiery Deaths of Three Women in Caen

The Legend:

It was reported by Pierre-Aime Lair in his famous study of spontaneous human combustion that the town of Caen was home to three separate examples of this strange demise. Lair was told of a woman who lived at Place Villars that was addicted to strong liquors, who was found with her body burnt but her extremities not touched by fire; furniture near her was very little damaged. Lair also heard of another woman addicted to drinking who suffered a similar fate; he was assured that her body could not be extinguished by water. He then mentions a third such incident in passing, but gives no details.

Unreliable

        Though intriguing, none of the three accounts has enough detail to allow them to be tracked down and confirmed. In fact, Lair complains of this same problem in his study itself, stating "I think it needless to relate the particulars ... because, as they were not attested by a process-verbal, and not having been communicated by professional men, they do not inspire the same confidence."