Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.

2003 Darwin Awards

Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it in the most spectacular way possible.

Master Welder
2003 Darwin Award Winner
Unconfirmed by Darwin

(February 2003, Australia) I heard this on radio and happened to pass the house the next day. A homeowner was doing some welding on the roof of his house at Port Macquarie in New South Wales. He had problems with his oxyacetylene tanks slipping, so he decided to tack weld them to the roofing iron. That was the last thing he ever did. When I passed the house the next day, there wasn't much left of the roof on that side of the house.

Darwin says, "Could this actually happen? A request for confirmation on went unanswered, but details were discussed. The incident occurred in Australia, home to many metal roofs, where repairs are often most easily accomplished using oxyacetylene welding instead of less volatile forms of electric-arc welding. Pure acetylene is explosive at a mere 15 pounds of pressure per square inch, and can also explode when exposed to air. So what happened here? One possibility is that our homeowner, blithely blow-torching the tank for the tack weld, heated it and created enough pressure to turn it into a giant bomb. Another possibility is that the weld weakened the tank enough to allow a leak, which exposed the acetylene to air: KABOOM. A third possibility is that the heat increased the pressure, which popped open relief valves, creating a blowtorch with a 6,000-degree (F) flame, easily hot enough to melt part of the roof and catch the wooden framing on fire. A fourth possibility is that the tank's relief valve turned it into a flaming rocket, which shot into the house and set the whole place on fire. The only sure thing is that the homeowner found a new home in the annals of the Darwin Awards.

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Submitted by: Kev
Reference: Radio

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