Investigators have been left mystified by the case of a 70-year-old pensioner who burst into flames and died in front of horrified passers-by on a quiet London street.
Pedestrians watched in horror as they saw John Nolan ablaze in Orchard Place, north London, near Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane football ground, just after 1pm.
Some desperately tried to put out the fire as others called the emergency services.
Mr Nolan, who was an unmarried, retired construction worker from County Mayo, Ireland, was flown to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex by air ambulance but died the next day. His body was 65 per cent covered in third-degree burns.
London Fire Brigade specialist investigators were unable to find anything at the scene that would have sparked a fire.
No property or any one else was harmed in the blaze.
Detectives are appealing for witnesses to come forward, to try to explain how Mr Nolan came to catch flames.
Met Police officer PC Damien Ait-Amer, the investigating officer on the case said: ‘We have spoken with a number of witnesses who saw Mr Nolan abalze, 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.’
Mr Nolan followed his sister Mary to London in the 1960s and were later joined by their other three siblings.
He had been living in a few streets away from where he died in Tottenham.
A post-mortem examination gave his cause of death as severe burns. His inquest will open at Barnet Coroner’s Court on March 13 next year.
No arrests were made in connection with his death, which happened on September 17 and it is still being treated as unexplained.
At the time, his family told the Irish Post of their heartbreak.
His brother-in-law Tom Byrne said: ‘John wouldn’t hurt so much as a butterfly.
‘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.’
He was described by neighbours as ‘gentleman’ and a ‘truly lovely man’.