Man Bursts Into Flames and Dies on London Street

December 15, 2017 Updated: September 26, 2019

A 70-year-old man burst into flames and died on a London street, leaving onlookers shocked and police baffled.

John Nolan was spotted ablaze near the football ground of Tottenham Hotspur in north London around 1 p.m.

Passers-by called emergency services and some tried to put out the fire, a press release from London’s Met Police said.

The fire was quickly extinguished by the fire brigade and Nolan was taken to a specialist hospital outside London by the air ambulance. His body was 65 percent covered in third-degree burns, according to the Daily Mail.

Specialist investigators from the London Fire Brigade were unable to find anything that would have caused the fire.

Police said the cause of the blaze has yet to be determined and they are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Met Police investigating officer, PC Damien Ait-Amer, said in the statement, “We have spoken with a number of witnesses who saw Mr. Nolan ablaze, but we have yet to establish how the fire started.

“Mr. Nolan was a well-liked member of the community and none of our enquiries so far have indicated that he had been involved in a dispute of any sort. Nor does any account given by witnesses suggest that he had been in contact with another person at the time of the fire,” he said.

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as severe burns. There will be an inquest on March 13, 2018.

‘He Was a Gentle Man’

Nolan was originally from County Mayo in Ireland. He was a retired construction worker who was unmarried.

The Irish Post reported that he had come to London in the 1960s along with his three siblings.

“John wouldn’t hurt so much as a butterfly,” his brother-in-law Tom Byrne told the newspaper after Nolan’s death in September.

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

His neighbour Pam McGuigan also spoke highly of Nolan.

“In the years I have lived around here, I have never heard a soul say a bad word against him,” she said to the Irish Post.

“I always loved how gentle he was with animals, and very quiet. He was very softly spoken, and a truly lovely man.”

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