Fire Poltergeists and Human Sparks

The poltergeist is ancient and links to other anomalous phenomena and through these to yet more anomalies. Encouragingly though the poltergeist does not seem to be associated with all anomalies, for example it seems unrelated to Werewolves, Anomalous Big Cats, Out Of place Artefacts, Lake Monsters, Mystery Aircraft or the Andrew Crosse Experiments.

A poltergeist can be viewed as a haunting with associated physical phenomena including mysterious fires, pools of water, blood stains appearing from nowhere, telephone anomalies, moving objects, physical injury to humans, falls of coins and showers of stones. The “true” nature of the poltergeist is, however, secondary here to examining the connection between poltergeists and fire.

Poltergeist Fires

In June 1989 a married couple and the 17 year old wife's mother ( in her forties) moved into a cottage near Bury St Edmunds Suffolk UK. Ghostly but unspecified things started happening usually around 9:20pm and the couple contacted a priest who sprinkled holy water. He concentrated on a tree in the garden and a cupboard that gave him a bad feeling. He reportedly said he thought something bad might be in it.

In November 1989 a fire broke out in the cupboard resulting in the death of the family parrot. Some days later the woman heard a voice say “That was fun wasn't it?”. Thinking it was her mother she turned and found no one there. On 7th November she screamed and ran out of the kitchen saying something had pushed her while she was at the sink [2]. There seems to be no further information available.

A better known case is Carole Compton, a 20 year old nanny in Italy, around whom fires started in 1982. She had three different jobs and in each mysterious fires started along with other poltergeist activity [1] . She spent time in prison but was eventually released. She could be regarded either as a human spark or as a victim of a poltergeist.

While Carole was on trial a native Italian fire starter aged 10, Benedetto Supino [3] was causing some interest. Fires started around him and were accompanied by electromagnetic effects. Electrical and other machinery tended to fail when he was around and witnesses said they had seen his hands glow at those times. Eventually he was taken up by a parapsychologist and learnt to control his powers. After that he seems to have vanished from public notice

Mystery Fires

Mysterious fires are associated with poltergeists often enough that any mysterious fire tends to be blamed on a poltergeist. The situation is not helped by the tendency of reporters and others to describe a cluster of mystery fires as caused by a poltergeist.

A plague of fires started in Northern Italy in February 1990 when a man saw the fusebox outside his house start to burn. Electricians found no faults and replaced it. The replacement burst into flames before they left. They returned with a sophisticated new machine: the plastic switches on it melted rendering it useless. Objects, including cars, caught fire, people began to complain of headaches and sickness and one person said that they had seen a book on a high shelf turn to charcoal in a few seconds. There were many explanations in which the Devil (of course) featured as did Martians, UfOs and the supernatural. Some suspected “excess Electricity produced by high powered generators at a nearby US communications base” [5]

Similar fires broke out in Wharncliffe, West Virginia in 1983. Arson was suspected but the suspects passed lie detector tests, and the epidemic, according to Larry Arnold, director of an organisation specialising in Spontaneous Human Combustion research, fitted nicely into the poltergeist experience. The prevailing local theory involved microwave radiation from a 120 foot Norfolk and Western Railroad communications tower but experts determined that this could not be the cause. [6]

In Africa in the summer of 1984 the house of a deceased millionaire witch doctor suffered six apparently spontaneous fires in seven days ( The occupants said it was caused by the witch doctor's spirit: presumably he decided he needed a day off rather than make it seven out of seven) [7]

Back in Italy another, or possibly the same spirit started fires in an office in Rome. The workers attributed it to a ghost and said they felt a presence in the office. The fires were followed by a gust of wind. [8]

Fire Poltergeists and Human Sparks

Some people have an affinity to fire. So much so that fires start around them wherever they go. One such case is the so called Alabama Fire Poltergeist: in 1958, an Afro-American family had to move house four times because mystery fires kept breaking out in the houses they occupied. Arson was of course considered but police found no trace of accelerant or evidence of fire setting. Nevertheless the police got a confession from the 9 year old eldest child of the family, allegedly by dubious means. They apparently told him that a voodoo man was after his daddy and was going to get him if the boy did not “tell the truth”[9,10]. Similar dubious tactics were repeated by “Christian” fundamentalists seeking evidence of Satanic Ritual Abuse of children in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they questioned children for hours till they got the answers they wanted. An official investigation concluded there was no evidence of Satanic Ritual Abuse.

In 1983 twelve year old Nadine Calcine of St Pierre on the Island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean was plagued by mysterious fires. First a flat in their seafront apartment building was devastated by a fire while the owners were away and two days later the same flat was gutted. Then a mattress in Nadine's flat was destroyed by fire and over that weekend here clothes reportedly caught fire repeatedly. Fires were found in two mattresses and some linen in a cupboard.

Believing herself a victim of spells from the “Little Albert” Grimoire [11] a collection of natural and cabalistic magic with a mix of esoteric knowledge, herbal formulas, and talisman creations dating from 1702 she started wearing a charm made of salt, pepper and a nail all wrapped in a handkerchief. How she came to conclude she had become the victim of a spell is unknown

Summing up

Some poltergeists are accompanied by fires. Some mysterious fires occur without other accompanying poltergeist phenomena. Some people have such an affinity for fire that fires start around them. This affinity seems to be a temporary phenomenon perhaps associated with some internal conflicts, distress or anger.

It is possible there is a common phenomenon, in at least some cases, that would link poltergeists, human fire starters and inexplicable fires. This may also appear in Spontaneous Human Combustion. Adopting the theory that poltergeist phenomena are related to emotional disturbance and stress, normally but not always suffered by an adolescent, manifesting a poltergeist would be way of getting attention, fire starters would be an example of outwardly directed psychokinesis and Spontaneous Human combustion would be a case of inwardly directed psychokinesis.

This theory is of course open to question, for if adolescent or other emotional turmoil results in poltergeist phenomena one might expect fire starters ( and poltergeists) to be more common and mysterious fires to be more common close to elderly people who seem to be more prone to Spontaneous Human combustion. To argue that only a small fraction of the population have the necessary talent also raises the question why this talent is so rare.

As always, more data and research is needed. And care not to fall in love with any one theory.

  1. Carole Compton

  2. Bury Free Press November 10th 1989 and Fortean Times 55 p.28.

  3. Benedetto Supino also in Fortean Times 42 p.21

  4. 10 Mysterious fires caused by Ghosts cases 9 and 10.

  5. Sunday Express 11th March 1990, Guardian 22nd March1990, National Enquirer 9th April 1990 and Fortean Times 55 p.28

  6. Houston (TX) Post 16th June 1983, Columbus Dispatch 24th July 1983 and Fortean Times 44 p.43

  7. African Star 13th August 1983 and Fortean Times 44 p.45.

  8. Globe 28th August 1984 and Fortean Times 44 p.45

  9. The Alabama Fire poltergeist

  10. an original news cutting for the Alabama Fire Poltergeist.

  11. Wikipedia on the Little Albert Grimoire

  12. more on the Little Albert Grimoire

    see also

    Poltergeists Witches and Spontaneous Human combustion


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Comments 2 comments

Tristan Shaw profile image

Tristan Shaw 11 months ago

Pretty interesting article! That series of fires in Northern Italy in 1990 reminds me of a very similar incident that had happened in the Sicilian town of Caronia in 2004. For several months, cars and electric appliances inexplicably caught fire, even when the town's power supply was off.


Rabadi profile image

Rabadi 11 months ago from New York

Spooky perfect time to choose to write about this topic with Halloween around the corner :) You got a new follower!

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