1823, June (pre): Beauvais Man’s Fiery Death

In June, 1823, a report was printed regarding a man in the town of Beauvais, France, who had died in an odd way. After the incident, inquiries were made by a Mr. Colson and Mr. Lelarge, who then wrote the report of the matter.

        At 8:00AM one morning, a thick smoke was seen coming from an apartment in Beauvais. The door was broken open, and the occupant's body was discovered stretched on the brick floor and actively burning; it took a lot of water to stop the burning. Most of the flesh of the man's neck had been destroyed, excepting the front part of it. His left arm was greatly burned by the fire, as was the left side of his torso... and the right side of his body was nothing but ash and charred fragments of ribs, shoulder, and humerus (the upper arm bone), and part of the right fore-arm. His right leg and left thigh were also almost entirely destroyed. The open torso cavity still contained his heart, lungs, and liver, but all were dried out and scorched. The only other object in the room showing direct fire damage was straw-bottom chair, found upset near the body; the bottom had been burnt away. Near the body was an iron pot containing a small portion of burned charcoal.

        The man had been a 'very tall, fat brewer,' with a history of alcoholism. He had last been seen alive the night previous around midnight, when a woman of the house checked on him and saw he was in bed and his candle was extinguished. While Colson and Lelarge were dubious about whether or not these circumstances proved a posibility of Spontaneous Human Combustion, they apparently felt it was evidence for an abnormally flamable human body, a circumstance known as "preternatural combustibility."