Spontaneous Human Combustion

I hope that Cecil will read this.

Cecil, in your column about SHC (Spontaneous Human Combustion) http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_205b.html, your explaination in the update makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t seem to fit with one of the cases you mentioned in the original article where the victim was in a straw bed. You said that the straw matting was reported to have almost no damage to it. It seems to me even a cooler, slow burning fire would burn straw that was in direct contact.

Any thoughts?

The skeptic’s dictionary article talks about the “candle” effect also mentioned in the Straight Dope column. I beleive that’s the explanation offered for a body being burnt despite nearby flammable objects remaining intact.