A 43 year old woman from San Clemente, CA was walking along a Orange County beach last weekend and picked up seven orange and green rocks. She put them in the pocket of her cargo shorts and when she got home, the combination of rocks combusted, catching fire to the woman’s pants, her legs and eventually burning the wood floor in her home.
The rocks, of sizes differing from several inches in diameter to just a couple, but all were smooth. Initial tests on the rocks showed that two contained phosphorous, but the five others were cross contaminated. Further test results could take days. “There is phosphorous that naturally occurs on the sand at the beach, but no one has ever heard of pants catching fire,” Capt. Marc Stone of the OC Fire Authority told the Orange County Register.
The fire resulted in 3rd degree burns on the woman’s right thigh and knee and her husband suffered 2nd degree burns to his hands in an effort to help her.
It should be noted that the beach the rocks were found is located near both the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and the Camp Pendleton Marine base. There is also an island that is the base’s only live firing range and the site of rocket test. So maybe they weren’t “rocks” in the natural sense of the word.
(does anyone get the Sleestak reference in the pic?)
- Woman’s shorts catch fire after picking up beach rocks (grindtv.com)
- Rocks that burned woman sent to state for study (ocregister.com)