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1998 - Sydney, Australia

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August, 1998

On August 24 1998, Agnes Phillips mysteriously caught fire while unattended inside her daughter's car.  Several people witnessed this event, and amazingly, the victim lived for a short time afterwards. 

Agnes, who suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and lived in a nursing home, had been picked up that day by her daughter, Jackie Park, for a routine visitation.  Jackie parked the car and left her sleeping mother inside while she quickly went into the store to pick up a few items.  Shortly thereafter she noticed smoke billowing from the car, followed by an explosion of flames. 

As the car became engulfed, a passerby managed to drag Agnes out of the car and extinguish the flames.  Though she remained remarkably calm throughout the whole ordeal, Agnes did manage to utter the words "It's too hot... It's too hot!" 

Agnes suffered severe burns to her chest, abdomen, arms, and legs, and died in the hospital a week later.   Upon further investigation, Fire Inspector Donald Walsh claimed that he could not determine where the fire had originated, since the car had not been running.  There was no trace of liquid accelerants, no faulty wiring, and neither Agnes or Jackie smoked.  Inspector Walsh ruled out Spontaneous Human Combustion, and believed that this fire was the result of the "wick effect,"  totally disregarding the fact that  this process takes a matter of hours to burn a human body. 

The documentation in this case reveals that Agnes's body was severely burned within a matter of minutes, essentially eliminating any possibility of this event being caused by a "wick effect" type of fire, thereby making this a likely candidate for a true Spontaneous Combustion case in modern times.


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