An Irishman burst into flames in England, in what appears to be a case of spontaneous combustion.

Seventy-year-old John Nolan, originally from County, was out for a walk near his home in Tottenham, North London, when he caught fire. Emergency services were called and he was airlifted to a specialist hospital in nearby Chelmsford, Essex.

Despite the best efforts of medical staff, he died of his injuries the following day.

A post-mortem exam revealed that the former construction worker had burns over 65% of his body and an inquest is due to take place in March.

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Scientists have always viewed the idea the humans could burst into flames with suspicion but this case has left experts baffled.

Fire specialists say that Nolan was nowhere near fire and police have appealed for witnesses in an attempt to shed light on the mystery.

"Mr Nolan was a well-liked member of the community and none of our inquiries so far have indicated that he had been involved in a dispute of any sort," said Damien Ait-Amer - the officer assigned to the case.

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His brother-in-law Tom Byrne said he was a deeply kind man.

“John wouldn’t hurt so much as a butterfly,” he told the Irish Post.

“In fact, he’d find a way to bring the butterfly home and care for it. He was a gentleman who would do anything you asked of him.”