Woman Burned by Flaming Rocks Undergoes Surgery

Lyn Hiner describes ordeal with phosphorous stones
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2012 5:01 PM CDT
This image provided by the Orange County Health Care Agency shows rocks picked up on a Southern California beach by a woman, which later ignited inside her shorts, leaving her with severe burns.   (AP Photo/Orange County Health Care Agency)

(Newser) – A California woman has undergone two painful skin-graft surgeries after rocks she found on a beach caught fire in her pocket, the Los Angeles Times reports. "We know bad things happen to many people," said the victim, Lyn Hiner. "I'm thankful God carried us through this." On Good Morning America, she described how the rocks she had picked up on San Onofre State Beach suddenly ignited: "I started thinking it was a bug bite so I started slapping it and the next thing I know my pants were on fire."

"A bright, intense flame" arose from her pants, said husband Rob, who sustained burns on his hands when he tried to help. The fire department even showed up because the rocks set off smoke alarms when they fell and burned the floor. A week after the incident, scientists are still unsure how rocks lying on a beach could contain a phosphorous substance. "It's pretty implausible," said a chemistry professor. "I can't think of a scenario of chemicals on the beach that would have the properties that are described." (Read more rocks stories.)

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