In 1986, a man in Crown Point, New York died under extremely unusual circumstances. Many claim he was the victim of the phenomenon known as "spontaneous human combustion."


The remains of George Mott, a 58-year-old retired firefighter, were discovered at his home in Essex County, a stone’s throw from the Vermont border. Mott, who suffered from health problems, failed to answer several phone calls made by his son, who then initiated a wellness check. What he found was startling.


There appeared to be evidence of a fire, but the fire was unlike any that typically consumes homes. The fire seemed to be relegated to one room – George Mott’s bedroom. The curtains were burnt away, a nearby TV and bedside phone had melted, and George’s bed was badly burned. 

And on that bed were the charred remains of Mott himself – nothing but a pile of ashes and a few small bone fragments. It seems George Mott had literally gone up in smoke. The rest of the house – and even parts of the bedding –  were completely unscathed. Even more unusual was a box of matches on his nightstand that had failed to ignite. 

The incident was featured on a 1997 episode of Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack. 


Spontaneous human combustion is a hotly-debated phenomenon where the victim’s internal body temperature reaches a point where actual kindling can occur. Stomach gases, alcohol consumption, and other conditions may or may not be a factor. Whether a fire can actually ignite inside of a human body remains controversial. The scientific community is often skeptical of spontaneous human combustion. They say these incidents are more likely the result of dropping a lit cigarette on their person, or some other innocuous event. But why then does this not result in a total destructive house fire? Many of these incidents report fire damage only to the body and its immediate surrounding areas. 

So what really killed George Mott of Essex County in 1986? The world may never know.

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