It’s both shocking and sad, but it appears to be true. Doctors in India are baffled by a 23-month old baby that they say has burst into flames on more than one occasion. Actually, the child caught on fire a total of four times, if you believe their story. They also have an explanation.
Rajeshwari Karnan, the child’s mother, lives in the state of Tamil Nadu. She and her husband gave birth to a boy less than two years ago, which they thought to be a great addition to their two year old daughter.
Just one week into the baby’s birth, they heard the child screaming. They say that a neighbor shouted to them, “Your baby’s on fire!”
“There was a flame on his belly and his right knee,” Rajeshwari told the New York Times last week, “and my husband rushed with a towel to put it off [sic]. I got very scared.”
When the family took the baby to the doctor, they couldn’t figure out what was going on. They then went home, hoping that it was a one-time affair. But it wasn’t a one-time incident. According to the couple, it happened three more times.
The family has now been forced out of their village because they are fearful that the baby could cause a serious fire. Also, the poor child has a series of very serious burns all over his body.
Locals are saying that the gods are setting the baby on fire. But others are suspecting that the chemicals used to build the couple’s home may have played a role. But finally, doctors wonder if the baby is a victim of a rare condition called “spontaneous human combustion.”
“We are in a dilemma and haven’t come to any conclusion,” says Dr Narayan Babu. “The parents have held that the baby burned instantaneously without any provocation. We are carrying out numerous tests. We are not saying it is SHC (spontaneous human combustion) until all the investigations are complete.”
The plausibility of such an explanation is minimal, since human bodies are difficult to burn. Our bodies are made mostly of water, and bones only burn under tremendous heat.
We have no idea how this happened. But we only hope that this poor baby doesn’t catch on fire again. We also hope that the family can find a new, flame-retardant, place to live.