As the pressure of the holiday period intensifies in the run-up to Christmas, many of us have been left feeling completely burned out.

The combination of working your day job and trying to prepare your home before your extended family descends is a challenge that can leave many people feeling like a lump of charcoal in the bottom of a naughty person’s Christmas stocking.

This permanent state of exhaustion during the holidays can often prompt people to joke about spontaneously combusting – a phenomenon that humans possess a morbid curiosity about. But the extreme scenario is no laughing matter.

Despite sounding like something straight out of a science fiction movie, spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a legitimate and inexplicable cause of death. There have been a number of recorded historical cases, and one of the most notable took place in 1967.

Sixty-seven-year-old Mary Reeser was found dead when her landlady noticed that the doorknob to her home was unusually hot. This is what she found inside – the widower’s charred remains and a single leg, which for some reason had ‘survived’ the blaze.

Now, there has been a much more recent case of spontaneous human combustion.

Earlier this year, a 70-year-old pensioner from London burst into a fireball in the street as horrified onlookers watched on. The man, who was later identified as John Nolan, suddenly ignited on the quiet street in Tottenham, London, with the initial flames seeming to have sparked internally.

Mr. Nolan, formerly from Ireland, was flown to Broomfield Hospital in Essex by air ambulance after the incident, but he tragically died the next day as a result of his injuries, which left 65 percent of his body with third-degree burns.