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Really, Scientists? Burning Pocket Rocks STILL a Mystery

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Officials in Orange County said Thursday that the rocks that spontaneously ignited inside a woman's shorts pocket were, indeed, coated in phosphorus, but still can't explain how the chemical came to be on the rocks in the first place.

The rocks were collected by a family visiting San Onofre State Beach in mid-May, and made their way back their San Clemente home in the pocket of mother Lyn Hiner's cargo shorts. An hour later, they burst into flames. Hiner, 43, was injured, as was her husband, who tried to help her get her shorts off.

Once her husband managed to take her flaming shorts off and the rocks fell out, they continued to spark. Hiner was hospitalized by the freakish incident and has undergone two skin graft surgeries to replace burned skin on her thighs.

Scientists have maintained that they've never heard of anything like it and can't easily explain it. Even after officials confirmed the elevated levels of phosphorus, they are still saying the incident is a mystery, according to LA Now.

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That's pretty much exactly what they said earlier this month before shipping off the rocks for more testing. Now that the tests are complete, there are still no answers.

James Earthman, a UCI professor of chemical engineering and material science, suggested that the phosphorus could have come a passing ship or Camp Pendleton.

It's tempting to make the connection to the proximity of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, however scientists have also said it's not a likely factor in this incident.

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