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Ghost in the Burning Building

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Ghost in the Burning Building

Ghost in the Burning Building

~ Tony O'Rahilly
UPDATE: This photo may have been proved to be a hoax. An article in the Shropshire Star presents evidence that the image of the girl in the photo may have been lifted from an old postcard. Read it here. Following is the traditional story about the photo.

On November 19, 1995, Wem Town Hall in Shropshire, England burned to the ground. Many spectators gathered to watch the old building, built in 1905, as it was being consumed by the flames. Tony O'Rahilly, a local resident, was one of those onlookers and took photos of the spectacle with a 200mm telephoto lens from across the street. One of those photos shows what looks like a small, partially transparent girl standing in the doorway. Nether O'Rahilly nor any of the other onlookers or firefighters recalled seeing the girl there.

O'Rahilly submitted the photo to the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena which, in turn, presented it for analysis to Dr. Vernon Harrison, a photographic expert and former president of the Royal Photographic Society. Harrison carefully examined both the print and the original negative, and concluded that it was genuine. "The negative is a straightforward piece of black-and-white work and shows no sign of having been tampered with," Harrison said.

But who is the little girl? Wem, a quiet market town in northern Shropshire, had been ravaged by fire in the past. In 1677, historical records note, a fire destroyed many of the town's old timber houses. A young girl named Jane Churm, the legends say, accidentally set fire to a thatched roof with a candle. Many believed her ghost haunted the area and had been seen on a few other occasions.

This video, in two parts, looks at some of the other sightings of appartitions in the building, but questions the authenticity of the photo. (Unfortunately, they examined a print of the photo and not the original negative.) See it here: Part 1 ... Part 2

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