1932: NORTH CAROLINA'S FIRE POLTERGEIST
A rare but repititive phenomena in the annals of Forteana is the fire
poltergeist. This is a series of mysterious fires, usually featuring
blue flames, that breaks out spontaneously and repeatedly in a single
house or location.
One of the most famous fire poltergeist cases in USA history took
place in the small town of Bladenboro, North Carolina in January 1932.
Mrs. C.W. Williamson, a middle-aged housewife, was wearing a cotton
dress, and it suddenly "unaccountably burst into flames. She was not
standing anywhere near a heater, fireplace or stove. She was not
smoking. She had not saturated her dress with cleaning fluid or any
substance that might have caused combustion."
"The flaming dress was torn from her body by her husband and teenaged
daughter. All that remained of the frock was a charred rag, yet Mrs.
Williamson did not suffer a single burn. Neither did her husband or
daughter, although they had ripped the dress free with their bare
hands. Later that same day, a pair of Mr. Williamson's trousers in a
closet were reduced to ashes."
"On the following day, while the family and friends watched, a bed
burst into flames, and the bedclothing was destroyed. A set of
curtains in an unused room burned to ashes. "
"For three days, fires destroyed various objects in the home, then
vanished without spreading to flammable materials lying below or
beside the objects. Witnesses included (Bladenboro) Mayor J.A.
Bridger; Dr. S.S. Hutchinson, the family physician' and J.B. Edwards,"
the health agent from Wilmington, N.C.
"The bluish flames, similar to those from a natural gas jet, consumed
materials rapidly without changing color, but without burning anyone
who tried frantically to put them out.. 'There was no smoke and little
odor from the strange flames,' according to the AP account."
"On the fourth day the (Williamson) family moved out, and the police
moved in. Arson and fire control experts checked the house for any
materials that might cause spontaneous combustion. They found none.
Electricians unsuccessfully searched the wiring. Gas company experts
could locate no leak. Yet the weird blue flames continued to appear
out of thin air under the noses of the helpless officers."
"'The fires have burned and vanished as if guided by an invisible
hand,' the AP reported, 'There has been no logical explanation.'"
"The fires disappeared on the fifth day. The Williamsons moved back
into their house, somewhat nervously. But they had nothing more to
fear. It was all over." (See the book Mysterious Fires and Lights by
Vincent H. Gaddis, Van Rees Press, New York, N.Y. 1967, pages 188 and
189. Also True Strange magazine for March 1957.)