Thursday, January 18, 2007

When Birds Attack

Bird as arsonist in West Virginia:

A giant bird's nest littered with dozens of cigarette butts is leading investigators to believe that a feathery firebug may have torched a Huntington office building.

Fire Capt. David Bias said a pigeon or another kind of bird may have carried a smoldering cigarette into the Ratcliff Place on Jan. 10. Either that, or the mere volume of decomposing material in the nearly 5-foot-wide nest found in a ceiling may have combusted...

But Bias said that based on everything he's seen and heard during the preliminary investigation, the bird theory isn't for the birds.

"It's a possibility that has to be truely considered," he said.

For starters, the ceiling where the fire started was inaccessible to humans. There were no electrical lines in the area and burn patterns spread away from the nest in three directions.

"Everything points to a slow burn in the attic," Bias said.

About a half dozen businesses, including offices for an optometrist, lawyer and a magazine were displaced by the early evening fire. Three people escaped unharmed.

Reed Cook, a state fire marshal, said he has investigated other instances where a bird's nest, combined with some type of lighted material, started fires.

Thanks goodness this was only one. Imagine if there were many...

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1 comment:

Philo-Junius said...

"Now when Harald came to Sicily he plundered there also, and sat down with his army before a strong and populous castle. He surrounded the castle; but the walls were so thick there was no possibility of breaking into it, and the people of the castle had enough of provisions, and all that was necessary for defence. Then Harald hit upon an expedient. He made his bird-catchers catch the small birds which had their nests within the castle, but flew into the woods by day to get food for their young. He had small splinters of tarred wood bound upon the backs of the birds, smeared these over with wax and sulphur, and set fire to them. As soon as the birds were let loose they all flew at once to the castle to their young, and to their nests, which they had under the house roofs that were covered with reeds or straw. The fire from the birds seized upon the house roofs; and although each bird could only carry a small burden of fire, yet all at once there was a mighty flame, caused by so many birds carrying fire with them and spreading it widely among the house roofs. Thus one house after the other was set on fire, until the castle itself was in flames. Then the people came out of the castle and begged for mercy; the same men who for many days had set at defiance the Greek army and its leader. Harald granted life and safety to all who asked quarter, and made himself master of the place."

The Saga of King Harald Hardrada