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Spontaneous combustion of beach rocks?

The scientist in me hopes that they publish a follow-up article to this one!

The children of a 43-year-old woman collected rocks from Trestles Beach. The woman stuffed them into the pocket of her shorts. On Saturday afternoon at around 3:30 PM, while the woman was standing in her kitchen, the rocks somehow CAUGHT FIRE, burning the woman’s right thigh and knee, according to Captain Marc Stone of the Orange County Fire Authority.

The woman tried to stop, drop, and roll to put the fire out, but she was unsuccessful. Her husband got second-degree burns trying to pull the shorts off. The rocks, which were described as about the size of hamburger patties and were orange and green, fell from the shorts onto the wood floor, igniting the floor and filling the house with smoke! When firefighters arrived, the husband was hosing down his wife on the front deck.

Paramedics treated the woman for severe second- and third-degree burns on her right leg from her thigh to her knee and on her right arm, Stone said. The husband also was treated for second-degree burns on his arm.

Both were taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. Firefighters took the rocks with them to show to doctors, Stone said.

“I talked to the paramedic who treated her, and in his 27 years in responding to calls near the beach, he’s never seen this,” Stone said. “The rocks were still smoking when firefighters took them to the hospital.”

There is phosphorus that occurs naturally in sand at the beach, according to Stone, but nobody has ever heard of pants catching on fire. Tests are expected to take a few weeks to find an explanation.

-Bill at

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