Possible spontaneous human combustion victim is identified
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
2/20/13 at 3:46 AM
SALLISAW - A man whose body was found burning in his Sequoyah County house has been identified.
Danny VanZandt, 65, was found dead about 11 a.m. Monday in his wood-frame home between Muldrow and Sallisaw, a spokeswoman for the state Fire Marshal's Office said.
Several neighbors saw smoke and entered the home, trying to extinguish what they thought was trash burning only to realize that it was a person, Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart said Monday.
VanZandt's cause of death is pending, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman with the state Medical Examiner's Office.
Lockhart said the body was found in the kitchen with no other fire damage in the residence.
He said authorities haven't ruled out "spontaneous combustion" as a cause of the fire.
The state fire marshal hasn't determined the cause of the blaze, which isn't suspicious, agency spokeswoman Joanne Sellars said, adding that in her 15 years with the agency, she recalls one instance in which an agent attributed a fire to "humanly induced spontaneous combustion."
Spontaneous human combustion, in which the body purportedly bursts into flame without an external heat source, is viewed with skepticism in the science community, according to the website howstuffworks.com.
One possible explanation is the "wick effect," which proposes that the body, when lit by a cigarette, smoldering ember or other heat source, acts much like an inside-out candle, destroying tissue while barely burning the surroundings, the website says.
VanZandt was a smoker, Sellars said.
Original Print Headline: Man found burned in Sequoyah County house ID'd
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395