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Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) describes reported cases of the burning of a living human body without an apparent external source of ignition. There have been about 200 cited cases worldwide over a period of around 300 years.

There are also many hypotheses which attempt to explain the various cases of human spontaneous combustion:

Paranormal explanations (e.g., a ghost or divine intervention)
Natural explanations based on an unknown and otherwise unobserved phenomenon (e.g., production of abnormally concentrated gas or raised levels of blood alcohol cause spontaneous ignition)
Natural explanations that involve an external source of ignition (e.g., the victim dropped a cigarette)

Objections to natural explanations typically refer to the degree of burning of the body with respect to its surroundings. Indeed, one of the common markers of a case of SHC is that the body — or part of it — suffered an extraordinarily large degree of burning, with surroundings or lower limbs comparatively undamaged. Despite scientific evidence, supernatural explanations of spontaneous human combustion remain popular.

The spontaneous combustion of people (i.e. death from a fire originating within the victim's body without a direct external cause) is a theorised explanation for a number of unexplained cases, some of which are well-documented and many of which are not. The more convincing cases share the following characteristics:

The body is completely or almost completely incinerated, while nearby furniture that should normally have been damaged under such temperatures remains intact. Damage is limited to the victim's clothing, to the area of the floor or furniture on which they died, and to the ceiling above the corpse.
The torso is the focus of the fire, and if remains are found these are of the extremities, such as the feet.
There are no traces of fire accelerant, and the fire does not have an evident external cause.
The victim is typically alone at the time of death, and is thought to have been alive when the fire started, despite showing little sign of having struggled.

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