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Darwin Awards
1997 At-Risk Survivor
Email a Friend The stupidity displayed by the participants in the following tales stops short of the ultimate Darwin Awards sacrifice. Nevertheless, we salute the spirit and innovation of their misadventures. Next Prev Random

 
 
Firewalls
1997 At-Risk Survivor
Confirmed True by Darwin

(1997, England) There's ordinary foolishness, and then there's extraordinary foolishness. Stealing fireworks from a storage depot is foolishness. But using a welder's torch to cut through the wall of the building housing the fireworks -- that is extraordinary foolishness.

Several burglars pushed their luck to the brink of failure when they tried to pull off a heist of a building containing a large volume of fireworks. They used a gas cutting torch to slice through the main door. The door was eight feet tall, concrete, and reinforced with a solid inch of steel. Just as the torch penetrated the door, and success was at hand... a spark landed in a crate of fireworks inside.

Fireworks are explosive, and this particular crate contained the equivalent of a hundred pounds of gunpowder. The entire factory exploded. The door was popped from its hinges and slammed flat into the ground. The roof lifted off and landed in one piece. Interestingly, despite the violence of the explosion, the debris was confined within the factory perimeter.

Astoundingly, the perpetrators were not killed, and have never been found. Their cutting equipment remained behind, along with the car, which had been flattened by the concrete roof. Flabbergasted pyrotechnics professionals have dubbed them the "Hole in the Ground Gang."

DarwinAwards.com © 1994 - 2012
Submitted by: Ryan Miller
Reference: 1977 Radio Broadcast, and the Pyrotechnics Mailing List

Moderator Bert asked about this submission on the international Pyrotechnics Mailing List. Members confirm that the perpetrator(s) did survive, although their vehicle did not. No one was ever apprehended.

Pyrotechnics Mailing List Comments:

"This event did not claim the life of the thief, but his cutting equipment was found, along with his car, which had been flattened by the concrete roof of the magazine. The roof had lifted (and landed) in one piece. I recall the official police comment was, 'We are looking for someone who is one sandwich short of a picnic.'" -Tom

"I do development work for the company that now owns the site that was attacked in the 1990s. The building was constructed of reinforced concrete about 9" thick, with a steel door, and the door was attacked with a gas cutting torch. An ignition of material inside caused the entire building to fall to bits, with the concrete walls & steel reinforcing rods peeling back from floor level. Lumps of debris are still found on the site, as well as odd bits of the vehicle used in the raid. Interestingly, despite the violence of the explosion, the debris was confined within the factory perimeter. As Tom says, no one was killed, and it is assumed that no one was seriously injured. No arrests have ever been made. A full incident report was produced by the HS&E and makes interesting reading."

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