Published: 01 October, 2005
These are all genuine -and bizarre- emergency services-related incidents occurring in the world news. they are reprinted verbatim, and INDUSTRIAL FIRE JOURNAL accepts no responsibility for their content.
Astrologer sues NASA for crashing into a comet:
September 30th, 2005 - Russia: A Moscow astrologer has brought a £165m civil case against Nasa for 'ruining her predictions' by crashing a probe into a comet.
Marina Bai claims Nasa interfered with her predictions by sending its Deep Impact probe hurtling into the Tempel-1 comet in July 2005.
Bai is now demanding £165m compensation from Nasa for ruining her career.
The astrologer said at the time of the experiment: "It is obvious that elements of the comet's orbit, and correspondingly the ephemeris, a table which lists the positions of celestial bodies, will change after the explosion, which interferes with my astrology work and distorts my horoscope."
The 400-kilo Nasa probe smashed into the comet at a speed of 6.3 miles per second in the experiment designed to learn more about comets.
But physicists have dismissed Bai's claims. Russian physicist Vladimir Fortov said: "The change to the orbit of the comet after the collision was only about 10 cm."
Rescue crews mistake party balloons for stranded hangglider:
September 15th, 2005 - USA: More than 30 rescue workers responded to an emergency call concerning a hangglider stranded in a mountainous area of Cocke County, Tennessee.
Luckily, it turned out to be a false alarm.
A woman told police she saw a hangglider caught in trees in an area behind Carver's Orchard, just off Highway 321.
Four agencies answered the call - the Park Service, TWRA, the Cocke County Sheriff's Department and the Cosby Volunteer Fire Department. They even brought in a Wings helicopter to rescue the pilot.
When crews got to the area, all they found was a bundle of red, white and blue party balloons.
"Wings flew over it several times," said CVFD Captain Mike Shropshire, "and found what appears to be 40 or 50 balloons hung in some trees on the side of the mountain."
Captain Shropshire said the balloons were spotted from almost a mile away, and the mistake was an easy one to make.
Airport inspector gets bitten by piranhas whilst checking cargo
September 23rd, 2005 - Philippines: A routine check involving a shipment at Manila airport turned bloody when a piranha sprung up and bit one of the inspectors.
"I was checking one of the boxes for flammable materials when suddenly, something leaped out of it and bit me," Inspector Mario Trio said to a local newspaper.
The bite left a V-shaped wound on the inspector's finger. The 34 piranhas in the consignment he was checking had been falsely declared as 'ornamental fish' from Peru. These were confiscated but died two days later. The Filipino consignee faces charges of illegally importing live piranhas, punishable by up to eight years in prison and a fine, Fire Chief Felipe Santamaria said.
Rescuers interrupt lovers:
September 25th, 2005 - Belgium: Authorities in Belgium launched a rescue operation after a couple were spotted 'struggling' in the sea - only to find they were making love in the surf.
The alert was raised after a man from De Panne spotted the couple with his binoculars and contacted the Coastguard.
A Sea King rescue helicopter from a military base in Koksijde, a lifeboat and local police officers were all drafted in to help the couple.
But when the two swimmers were finally 'rescued' they complained there was nothing wrong with them and they had never been in any danger.
The 23-year-old girl, from Waterloo, was wearing only her partner's boxer shorts while the man, also 23, was completely naked.
Firefighters in trouble after parading round in Nazi gear:
September 22nd, 2005 - Germany: Two German firefighters are in trouble after they tried on Nazi SS uniforms they found in an old farmhouse.
The firefighters reportedly paraded up and down in the uniforms in front of a group of Boy Scouts.
The two voluntary firefighters from Coburg in Bavaria said they came across the old uniforms, that included hats with the SS symbol on them, while carrying out safety checks on the farmhouse.
It was being used as a base for the Scouts who were on a camping holiday.
They admitted trying on the clothes after public prosecutors presented photos of them wearing the uniforms, but said they were just playing around, and had only put them on to see what it felt like.
Wearing or owning Nazi symbols is illegal in Germany.
Driver causes oilspil after slamming in to cows:
September 30th, 2005 - USA: A semi-trailer slammed into a small herd of cows causing it to roll off the side of the road, killing its passenger and all five cows, the Colorado State Patrol said.
The tractor-trailer was hauling 205 barrels of crude oil westbound on Colorado Highway 66 in Weld County when five cows started to cross the road. The driver braked suddenly but he couldn't avoid the cows. The impact between the big rig and the herd sent the semitrailer rolling off the left side of the road.
The truck's passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, 43-year-old Arthur Anton, was taken to Northern Colorado Medical Center with moderate injuries. Both people were wearing seat belts.
The crash caused the truck to leak more than 200 gallons of oil into a ditch near the roadway. The Colorado State Patrol Hazardous Materials Unit was sent to the scene to clean and control the spill.
State troopers do not believe that excessive speed or alcohol played a role in the crash. "Although it's true to say we have a beef with the way the semi-trailer was driven," said one officer.