The Baby Ablaze!!

While “being on fire” is a very common expression used in part and parcel of our life but have you ever imagined what if it turnsman on fire 4
literally true. The latest case to make headlines is that of a three-month-old boy named Rahul catching fire spontaneously. The infant, who was admitted to the Pediatric ICU at Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital, Chennai on August 8, is being treated for burn injuries. The baby has caught fire four times since birth and the first time was nine days after his birth. 20 years ago, a similar case of a 23 year-old man was reported but it went undocumented.

According to media sources, the forensic study carried out on Rahul did not find any combustible gas leading to the fire and a few sources added that there were only scars of burns on the baby which had probably occurred at least a month ago as against the claims of the parents. The report also observed that the burn scars could be found only on the anterior portion of the body and that there was no evidence of any recent burns.

The doctors at Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital are treating the baby symptomatically for burns and have reported it as a case of Spontaneous Human Combustion but have not yet arrived at any conclusion and are observing the child to study how the fire was caused while the family is worried as villagers are afraid of the child, believing the infant is being haunted by an evil force that triggers the fire.
Can human beings burst into flames without any external source of ignition? Well… this is a topic that remains shrouded in mystery and controversy. For several centuries, people have debated whether human beings can spontaneously burn without being ignited by an external source.
The phenomenon in which the body catches fire without any outside source of heat only to be reduced to ashes is known asman on fire 1 Spontaneous Human Combustion(SHC). Interestingly, the SHC victims’ extremities, such as the feet, and surrounding objects escape relatively unharmed. . Though the first known accounts of SHC date all the way back to 1641 but the phenomenon gained wider exposure in the 19th century after popular author Charles Dickens used it to kill off one of the characters in his novel “Bleak House”. In total about 200 such cases have been reported in last three centuries.
In centuries gone by, the phenomenon has benn attributed to divine intervention, black magic and other metaphysical or ritualistic afflictions. One theory known as the ‘Candle Wick Effect’says that if a body wrapped in clothing is set on fire under certain circumstances the clothing can act as a candle wick and the fat of the victim like the wax, producing an intense but highly localized fire that reduces the victim to ashes without setting anything else on fire. The theory is also strengthened by some experiments carried out in such regard using ‘pigs’ as the ‘victims’. Mr.Brian J. Ford, a research biologist from England has very recently suggested that ketosis, possibly caused by alcoholism or low-carbohydrate diet, produces acetone, which is highly flammable and could therefore lead to apparently spontaneous combustion.

Does the human body have chemical reactions that science is yet to discover?

It seems that an internal reaction of some kind is the most likely explanation for these deaths, but what triggers it? Can it be detected? Avoided? While there are hundreds of unanswered questions about people spontaneously bursting into flames, do we really need to worry about it??

Yes, dear readers, be afraid. Be VERY afraid. As if you don’t have enough to worry about, other than panic over the idea that someday, at some unknown moment, you are going to evaporate in a cloud of smoke.

About the author: Abhishek Kumar Mishra, a final MBBS student at KMC, Mangalore

You all can send us your own articles on this or any other topic, literary works, photos, etc. as well at [email protected] or [email protected] . We will be more than happy to share them with everyone.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.