Human combustion

Fireballs rained and hot air rushed ahead of the main fire, detonating and exploding buildings—and people—faster than it took to describe the scenes. Women and girls were especially vulnerable. The combination of layers of clothing and higher fat content in their bodies intensified the heat, just as a covering wrapped around a lighted candle. People recalled the sight of sixteen-year-old Helga Rockstead running down the boardwalk, desperately trying to outrun the flames. Her waist-length hair streaming behind her caught fire, and her head burst into flame. She was immediately wrapped in a sheet of fire.