Mysterious rocks spontaneously burst into fire, cause severe burns

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012

California resident Lyn Hiner recently spent a typical morning picking up rocks at the beach with her daughters. The not-so-typical part? A few hours later, the rocks burst into flame and set her shorts on fire. WTF?

Lyn was eating an orange in the kitchen when her shorts—literally—caught fire, and she received heavy burns until she could figure out it was the rocks in her pockets sparking the flames. Once she got them out, inky residue dripped off them and started smaller fires on the kitchen floor.

She survived the ordeal, but it landed her in a burn unit with second- and third-degree burns.

"Lyn sounded panicked," her husband Rob told MSNBC. "She turned around and I saw flames coming from her pocket. I went to smack it and at the same time the house filled with smoke. Lyn screamed, 'Get it out!' It was terrifying and confusing all at once."

The biggest mystery of all? No one knows exactly why, or how, the rocks caught fire.

The stones were all smooth and orange, except for a smaller green one, and they have since been sent to a state lab for testing. Initial tests found traces of phosphate, so the rocks may have been coated with phosphorous, which can spontaneously ignite when exposed to oxygen.

Military testing is one possibility for the mysterious fire rocks, though the U.S. Department of the Navy from Camp Pendleton says it does not believe the substances involved are tied to any military exercises.

What do you think? Freak accident, or military experiment gone wrong?


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