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Originally published:  02/02/2012
Pest control – or rather, inappropriate pest control technique – features regularly in this column, but this is the first time we can recall a sauna being involved.
Last month a youth hostel in Stockholm, Sweden, caught fire, causing more than 700 people to be evacuated. According to police, the fire started when staff at the hostel had the bright idea of de-lousing their mattresses by putting several of them in the hostel’s sauna (this is Scandinavia, remember) and turning up the heat.
No one seams to have put their hand up to having dreamed up what police spokesman Göran Callervik sarcastically referred to as “this splendid idea”. Not surprising, really: the incident could be a case of gross negligence, carrying a possible two-year jail sentence.
A man in Arnold, Missouri, also came a cropper as a result of a little DIY, although in his case he was the victim of his own experiment. Ronnie G Sanders had built his own cannon, with which he intended to see in the New Year. Sounds like it was quite a basic sort of cannon: a metal pipe, packed with black powder, with a wick at one end.
One of his friends had already come by to see the cannon and Sanders had let it off “several times”, according to the local press report. However, when another buddy stopped by, the cannon itself exploded, shooting shrapnel through the wall of a metal barn and piercing Sanders’ neck; he did not survive.
Seems like he was an accident waiting to happen. “He was always looking for excitement,” said his mother. His last appearance in the local news was only in March 2011, when he was detained in Page, Arizona, after trying to board a plane carrying a laptop with wires dangling out of the back. TSA screeners called police after he volunteered the information that it wasn’t a bomb; this of course did not prevent the bomb squad being called and the airport being closed for several hours.
Press reports also note that Sanders was not married. You don’t say…
Out of the box
Halifax Stanfield International suffered delays one day last month for a rather more innocent incident. The early morning Air Canada flight to Toronto was already boarding when a passenger managed to access the cockpit; fortunately, the passenger concerned was a cat that escaped its cage while its owner was busy loading bags into the overhead bin.
The cat, named Ripples, hid in the cockpit and refused to budge. Eventually a maintenance crew had to be called in to disassemble parts of the flight deck. After the cat was reunited with its owner, the electronics had to be thoroughly tested before the aircraft could depart, by now more than four hours late.
A little water with that?
We finish this month with a rather depressing tale from Scotland. Last month a 46-year-old employee at the Glenfiddich distillery in Banffshire decided to take his own life. He chose a 50,000-litre washback tank, containing a mixture of water and yeast that figures in the early stages of the distilling process, as his suicide spot.
The man was described in the local press as a senior employee, having worked at the Glenfiddich plant for 23 years. He died the day before his wife’s 54th birthday. Managers closed the plant for two days “as a mark of respect”. Although presumably they were also going to clean out the tank.