On Dec. 22, 76-year-old Michael Faherty burned to death in his home in a blaze that, firefighters say, had no cause and was restricted to his body and the area immediately surrounding it. This week, a coroner ruled that Faherty died of spontaneous human combustion, the Irish Times reports. The BBC notes that it is believed to be the first spontaneous combustion case in the country. Investigators and experts determined that there was no accelerant, no suggestion of foul play, and that the fire in the fireplace near where Faherty died was not the cause of the fire that killed him.
A neighbor had called for help around 3am upon hearing a fire alarm. Faherty was found lying on his back, his body completely burned, but only the floor beneath him and the ceiling above him sustained fire damage—the rest of the house was damaged only by smoke. A pathologist says the cause of death could not be determined due to the extensive damage to his organs. Faherty was found close to the fireplace, and the coroner notes that one expert has said that cases of reported spontaneous combustion typically happen near a fireplace or chimney.