; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Odon 'Fire Poltergeist'

Odon, Indiana, is a peaceful smallish town and not one that you would suspect of having a history of paranormal mysteries. Yet in June 1940, an Odon farmhouse would be the setting of one of the strangest supernatural puzzles of modern times.

William Hackler finished breakfast and left the house to begin his many chores for the day. As he was walking across the yard, he noticed smoke pouring out of one of the upper-story windows. Alarmed, he ran back into the house and raced up the stairs. Once inside the room, he saw that a medium-sized fire was consuming the wall underneath the window. The fire seemed to be coming from inside the wall itself. This would make one suspect faulty wiring, but the Hackler homestead was not wired for electricity. And there was no fire burning in the house’s stove. There was no apparent cause for the fire.

The volunteer fire department was sent for and put out the mysterious fire soon after their arrival and then left.

No sooner had the firefighters put off the flames and returned to the station, that another call came from the Hackler house. This time, Mrs. Hackler had found another fire ablaze on her feather bed. Now the fire seemed to be originating from the mattress. The fire spread wildly and covered the entire room. The firefighters acted steadily and doused the flames.

If the firemen thought they would be leaving the Hackler house any time soon, they were to be disappointed. Throughout the day fires burst out and consumed objects and parts of the house’s structure. In one case a firefighter went to a bookshelf and picked up a book which seemed to be emitting smoke. As he opened it, he found it burning from within. In fact, the cover was intact while the pages were on fire. In the kitchen, a firefighter found a pair of coveralls burst into flames, while a damp dishwasher caught fire. A bedspread caught flames right before the eyes of a dozen witnesses. As a flame on the roof was completely extinguished, another fire broke out charring the window blinds. A medicine cabinet was found burning from the inside, while another book inside a desk drawer was mysteriously flaming from within, while its covers were unspoiled.

Scared, the Hacklers removed all their goods, took out the windows, and patiently waited for the house to be engulfed by flames. However, with another little fire at 11:00 p.m., the fires ceased. Several goods were burnt, but the house itself wasn't seriously harmed. About a hundred firefighters had gathered to put off 28 fires in a single day! No cause could be determined. There was no electricity, nor was any stove left burning. On July 4th, the unsettled Hacklers found it wise to have their house demolished. On April 19, 1941, the Collier's Magazine published an advertisement from the Traveler's Insurance Company, detailing the petrifying tale of the Odon Fire Poltergeist.

Officials were baffled and put forward odd solutions such as rogue magnetic fields, gasses seeping from an unused well, and pranks by Hackler’s children.
Thoroughly spooked, Hackler demolished the house and built a new one. As far as history records, he and his family were never bothered by phantom fires again.

Was this a case of spontaneous combustion...or was there a supernatural cause?

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