Europe

Sweden fire turns cans of rotten fish into exploding missiles

  • 2 May 2014
  • From the section Europe
Hans-Erik Englundh with his surstroemming warehouse burned to the ground
Hans-Erik Englund was forced to watch as his storage building burned to the ground

A fire in a warehouse on the east coast of Sweden caused cans of fermented fish to explode and go flying through the air, according to local media.

The building went up in flames with 1,000 tins of surstromming inside. The Swedish delicacy is reputedly one of the world's most foul-smelling foods.

Four people sleeping above the store room escaped unharmed.

"It smells like someone's frying fermented herring," warehouse owner Hans-Erik Englund told Radio Sweden.

"The firefighters were surprised."

The fire caused the explosions to continue for six hours
The warehouse contained 1,000 tins of surstromming that had been fermenting for a year

The blaze happened on Thursday morning near the town of Enaanger in the Hudiksvall region, reports say.

The cans of rotten Baltic herring, which had already expanded due to the powerful fermentation gases inside, were heated by the fire and began to explode over a period of six hours.

One of the cans flew over an outhouse roof, while another shot over the bay to a neighbour's house, Mr Englund said.

"It was terrible. I can't get my head around what happened," he told the regional Hela Halsingland newspaper.

Four people, including the owner, were sleeping in the building at the time
Surstromming, a traditional food in northern Sweden, is so smelly it is often eaten outside

Reports say the fire crews initially believed the explosions were caused by propane bottles.

Surstromming is a traditional dish from northern Sweden. The Baltic herring is fermented in barrels for months before being put in tin cans, where the fermentation process continues.

Several major airlines have banned the fish, arguing they are pressurised goods and must be classified as potentially explosive.

The delicacy is so foul-smelling that it is often eaten outside.

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