A Man Burst Into Flames on a London Street and Police Still Don't Know Why

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John Nolan mysteriously caught fire while taking a stroll in London on September 17. He later died in the hospital from severe burns. Supplied by Mary Caffery

London police are appealing for witnesses to a man who died after bursting into flames in front of onlookers on a street in North London.

John Nolan, a 70-year-old unmarried former construction worker, was engulfed in flames on a street in North London on September 17. Paramedics were called to attend a man on fire, local newspaper Ham and High reported.

Nolan suffered severe burns and was airlifted to a hospital. He died in a specialist burns units in Essex the next day, when his life-support machine was turned off. A postmortem examination determined that Nolan's death was due to severe burns.

There were no accelerants found on his body, and there have been no leads as to the reason Nolan caught fire, according to the Ham and High.

Nolan’s sister Mary Caffery, a retired NHS hospital PA, said he went outside the house he lived in with his brother Jimmy “to go for a walk.” It was during that walk that the incident occured.

“He was a frail, elderly man with a walking stick. He had no enemies, so we aren’t sure [what could have happened],” she told Newsweek. “I am surprised by the tragedy. The police are examining his clothes now, but currently they are no closer to solving anything. Everything is still up in the air.”

Today the police issued a fresh appeal, saying Nolan's death was still being treated as unexplained. They have urged any witnesses who could shed light on this mysterious incident to come forward.

Speaking to the Ham and High, PC Damien Ait-Amer, who is investigating the death, said, “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.”