Feeds

Bumbling NJ firemen, cops blown up in 'huge fireball'

Gunpowder plot ruled out: bunker-buster blunder blamed

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Firemen and police officers in New Jersey blew themselves up last week in an "orange mushroom cloud of fire and debris" which created a "deafening boom felt miles away". The unfortunate public-safety operatives had been attempting to light a bonfire at a high-school rally.

According to the South Jersey Courier-Post, kids at Vineland High School had planned a "pep rally" at 6:30 pm local time last Wednesday. Weather conditions had been damp, and it seems that local firemen attending the rally "doused" the bonfire - constructed largely of wooden shipping pallets - with "diesel and another accelerant".

Within seconds of the fire being lit, there was apparently a devastating blast which "ejected a flaming pile of pallets into the sky" atop the above mentioned roiling fireball. Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt, though the Courier-Post reports that a firefighter was injured by flying debris and several police officers "sought medical treatment for ear ailments" following the blast.

No schoolkids were harmed, and the rally apparently went ahead without trouble at an alternative venue free of exploding bonfires.

Initial investigations focused on the possibility that unknown scoundrels had "tampered" with the pallet pile beforehand. This theory was bolstered by the fact that some onlookers reported a sulphurous smell as of gunpowder following the explosion.

However detectives later downplayed the gunpowder-plot theory, saying that the smell probably came from the diesel poured on the fire by the firefighters, which apparently had a high sulphur content.

Rather than any foul play, it appears that vapour from the accelerants built up in the deep pit where the fire had been built, forming a fuel-air mix of the type employed by the military in so-called "bunker buster" bombs. When the fire was lit, the accidental fuel-air mix blew up rather than simply burning.

As diesel is hard to evaporate, especially in chilly weather, it seems probable that the other unnamed accelerant used by the firefighters was responsible for the blast.

Investigators described the inadvertent bunker-busting pallet-flinging fireball unpleasantness as a "freak accident", according to the Courier-Post. ®

Before becoming the Reg comedy-explosions correspondent, Lewis Page worked in bomb disposal for some years. He would of course never be so irresponsible as to use volatile accelerants, except when deliberately creating a fireball/blast-incendiary effect for educational purposes. Or maybe on very special occasions.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook's Zuckerberg in EBOLA VIRUS FIGHT: Billionaire battles bug
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contacted as site supremo coughs up
Space exploration is just so lame. NEW APPS are mankind's future
We feel obliged to point out the headline statement is total, utter cobblers
Down-under record: Australian gets $140k for pussy
'Tiffany' closes deal - 'it's more common to offer your wife', says agent
Internet finally ready to replace answering machine cassette tape
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
FedEx helps deliver THOUSANDS of spam messages DIRECT to its Blighty customers
Don't worry Wilson, I'll do all the paddling. You just hang on
The iPAD launch BEFORE it happened: SPECULATIVE GUFF ahead of actual event
Nerve-shattering run-up to the pre-planned known event
Win a year’s supply of chocolate (no tech knowledge required)
Over £200 worth of the good stuff up for grabs
STONER SHEEP get the MUNCHIES after feasting on £4k worth of cannabis plants
Baaaaaa! Fanny's Farm's woolly flock is high, maaaaaan
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Swiss wildlife park serves up furry residents to visitors
'It's ecological' says spokesman, now how would you like your Bambi done?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.