Tag Archives: fire

Tony Hawk Took a Selfie with This Guy After His Car Burst into Flames

Gone are the days of admiring rats for trying to eat an entire slice of pizza, of smiling down at them from a subway platform as they scurry along the tracks, of taking them home as pets and feeding them bok choy. These are times of war, and for one Brooklyn man, the rats struck first.

Last Friday, Alec Steinfeld was driving to work from Brooklyn to Manhattan when he caught a whiff of roadkill, local station WGN reports. He kept on driving, knowing that encountering a dead animal in New York wasn't too out of the ordinary. But once he got to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the smell had developed into an olfactory cocktail of burned plastic and death, and smoke started to billow out of his vehicle.

"Then smoke started to pillar," Steinfeld wrote on Facebook. "I pulled over and got out of the car."

Then his Volkswagen just burst into flames, and the fire department dispatched a truck to come put it out, though within three minutes, his engine was toast. When he popped the hood, he found two dead baby rats inside—his first clue as to what the hell he'd been smelling during his drive. He took a closer look and discovered that they'd nibbled through his electrical wiring, likely suffering a brutal end. Soon, two more rats emerged from the wheel of his car, where presumably they had been camping out, munching on his car's insides.

As if rats blowing up your car in the middle of Manhattan isn't weird enough, Steinfeld's day took an even stranger turn, and out of the smoke plumes, a golden ray of light emerged. As his car was spiraling into a fiery doom, he noticed Tony Hawk, the pro skater, was standing nearby filming the whole hellish scene before him.

Screengrab via WGN's broadcast report

"So I am watching my car get mauled by a rat fire, seeing Tony Hawk capture this across the street," Steinberg told WGN.

Though the Birdman didn't really do anything to help Steinberg out, he did join him for a selfie, which isn't nothing.

Photo from Alec Steinberg's Instagram

Just another Friday in Gotham, baby.

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I Tried ‘Ten Life Hacks That Will Change Your Life’ to See if They Actually Did

I've always hated life-hack listicles. And by that, I mean I once read one in 2012, and I didn't like it. But once you've read one, you've read them all: the same ancient photos of some phone chargers slotted into a paperclip, rehashed when it's been a low-yielding week on the content farm.

Mind you, I could probably benefit from paying some attention. With my lack of storage, my lack of most common household appliances, and my lack of any products to help me stay on top of my multiple loose phone chargers—I recognize these issues but don't have the time, imagination, or money to do anything about them.

So maybe—just maybe—following the life hackers' advice could be the answer I've been looking for all along?

1) No Idea How to Deal with Your Storage 
Issues? The Answer Is Right Under You, Dummy!

I live in a garden shed. This has its upsides—relatively good talking point, the fact I'm the only person who lives in it—but also its downsides. It is tiny, and there's nowhere to put any of my stuff.

Luckily, the life hackers have a solution: Drill a chair into a wall and hang your valuables off it.

OK, so there's no shelf space like in the original photo, but at least I have something on which to hang my scarves, hats, shirts, and other light items. And, yes, I now have nowhere to sit in my own home, and this precarious arrangement can't really handle much weight, and the whole exercise was basically redundant, but I guess novice life hackers like myself have to expect a few casualties along the way.

2) Need a Crisp Shirt, but Don't Have an Iron Around? Steam, Idiot!

I do have an iron, but I hate ironing. And I'd sure like a life in which I can look sharp without singed knuckles. So I thought I'd try this:

Hammer out. Pans on. The answers were right in front of me all along!

That said, after ten minutes of bubbling, this method doesn't seem to be having much impact. Feeling my shirt—which is the consistency of the inner sole of a soggy shoe on a rainy day—I decide it probably just needs a little longer, like a stew. So I leave it to steam and move on.

3) Don't Spend Money on Tape, Moron!

I often find myself screaming at my jars. Why? Because they are unlabeled, and I have no idea what's in them, and the masking tape I bought four years ago for that purpose has since lost its stick.

Again, the life hackers apparently have a cure: Microwave the roll of tape. While researching this article, I've come to realize that roughly 66 percent of life hacks basically consist of microwaving inedible household items, so I'm skeptical about this one.

I pick the plate up, and the tape creaks. Like Jesus poking his head out of the cave, it has risen. Though it may have damaged my microwave in a way that will slowly and discreetly poison me, it did work. Thanks, hackers!

4) Sick of Stuffy Bike Rides in the Summer? Soak It Up, Dum Dum!

It's lunchtime, the sun is out, and I've got errands to run. Sounds pleasant, right? Well, not for me. I have the complexion of a button mushroom and live in south London, which means bike riding is a necessity. So today means a stuffy bike ride, with my shoes sure to be soaked through with sweat by the end of the day. That is, unless German engineering can come to the rescue.

Sommerpedale! Simply grab some sponges from under the sink, string them from your toolbox, and make yourself some... spandles?

Despite my soles being turning red from residual passata, with the sun shining and a cool breeze running between my toes, I feel good. Refreshed, I begin to wonder: Why don't we ride like this all year round?

5) Hate Standing in Line? Try It Caribbean style, Bonehead!

Heading to the ATM, I'm still giddy. What a revelation! But getting off my bike, I realize I've made a fatal mistake. Caught up in the wind of refreshed feet, I've left my shoes at home. But never fear: The life hackers, as ever, have a solution. Try "Caribbean queuing," leaving your shoes—or, in my case, sponges—in your place while you have a little rest.

Sitting against the wall, I watch a young man jump in front of me in line.

"Sorry, dude," I say. "I'm actually in line."


"I'm in line, look."

I point, and we both stare down at the spandles. He looks back at me. Then he looks out at the world, dumbfounded.

Dear God: It's worked. A man is standing in line behind a pair of sponges. A man is giving sponges with strings attached to them equivalent value as a human being standing in line. Picking up the sponges and leaving, I'm speechless. This is the biggest line revelation since Curb taught us the concept of the "chat and cut."

6) Never Buy an Old Egg Again, Nitwit!

Last week, I purchased some top-shelf, free-range eggs from my local supermarket. I got home and discovered two of them were de-yolked. I was heartbroken. It can never happen again. Good news, then, that the internet had a tip for me:

With a Tupperware box under my arm, I make my way over to that very same supermarket and head straight to the egg section.

One by one, they sink to the bottom. Everything looks good, so I head to the checkout. Draining my bounty outside, people glare at me, but it's a small price to pay for a perfect set of eggs.

On a high from the spandles and eggs, I decide I'm going to celebrate by going out tonight, so I head back to my place to get ready.

Hopping off my bike, I bound through the shed door. My smoke alarm sounds, pans clatter, and a wave of heat sears my eyes shut. It's like entering an 18th-century needle mill. Swatting away the condensation, I remember my shirt: It has literally been cooking for two and a half hours. And it's still completely creased. This damp shirt, I decide, is not going to dampen my mood. Not today. I'm going to enjoy the cool evening with a small campfire in the garden outside my shed—but another problem strikes: I have no firewood.

Still, that's fine, because:

7) Doritos Make Better Kindling Than Food, Idiot!

When you're grabbing Doritos to put on a fire, is it a necessity to buy the Chili Heatwave flavor? Or can I just get straight-up Cool Ranch Original? Logic suggests the former, but I prefer the taste and aroma of the latter. Either way, I go for Tangy Cheese. Not for its steady 4-4-2 deal but because its bland flavor has disappointed so many that it deserves to burn.

And up it goes.

It's sensational, this hack—the easiest fire I've ever built. You know what this evening needs now?

8) Never Bother with a Corkscrew Again, You Absolute Fool!

Though—like most humans—I own a corkscrew, by the looks of the internet, opening a bottle of wine is something people seem to love to hack. And this way looks the most assured. So I get my hammer—something I'm beginning to realize is all you really need in your home—and a screw and bottle.

I hammer it down and start pulling. It's tough, but I'm getting there. Eventually, a wriggle, an explosion, and then... boom.

The cork has split. So I hammer it in and try again. The same thing happens. Ten, 20, 30 minutes pass. My face slowly becomes more reddened by the excruciating Dorito heat. I try again, only for another excruciating failure. Tossing the hammer to the floor, I give up. All hope seems lost. And then I hear it.

One of the builders next door—one of the very men I've been tweeting passive aggressively about for the past month—spots me in my hour of need and calls out: "The screw needs to go deeper." Of course!

One. Last. Pull.

Glory. It may have taken 40 minutes and required the help of another man, but I got there in the end.

Time to get hammered.

9) Booze + Food Coloring + Mouthwash Bottle = Infallible Secret Drinking Vessel

I'm the kind of guy to order an Uber from the pub to Domino's after four $6 pints on a Wednesday night, so any saving tips are welcome, and this one makes complete sense to me.

Packing my bag, I head out into Brixton. And dare I say it, reader, but considering my successful bag search and entry, this seems to be another one that works.

I'm standing in the middle of bar that once refused me entry because I had a soccer scarf in my bag, swigging tequila.

Beginning to feel the warm embrace of Central America, it's time for the final hack.

10) Clean Out a Suntan-Lotion Bottle, so Your Stuff Never Gets Stolen, Pinhead!

Over the past 12 months, I've lost two wallets and had two phones mugged. I've also lost one bike helmet, four sets of headphones, a metro card, three bags of clothes, and multiple other bits and bobs while out drinking. So, naturally, I was drawn to this one.

I'm in the toilet, decanting a sun-cream bottle and making my very own time capsule containing a passport photo, $24.89, a spare bike key, some tobacco, an open train ticket to Redditch—a neighboring small town in England—and my phone number, to call if found.

Now I just need to plant it.

Seamless. I'll see you later.

Hours pass, and I work my way through the entire bottle of mouthwash. I make friends. I discuss current affairs in the bathroom. My photographer Theo leaves. A man from Essex pretends to be Norwegian, completely fooling me. We laugh. I'm invited back to a party and—after leaving at closing time—head over to retrieve my capsule.


Follow Oobah Butler on Twitter.

Follow Theo Mcinnes on Instagram.

Lawyers See Dollar Signs in Exploding Vapes

Doug Gant was fresh off of work and chilling at a friend's house in Mays Landing, New Jersey, when his pants exploded. It happened in a matter of seconds: He was sitting at a table, he heard a hiss and a pop, and his leg was suddenly on fire. "I immediately got up, started smacking my pocket, and ran outside and disrobed in the front yard. I was like, 'I'm OK, I'm alright.' But then I looked at my leg, and it was just black and charred," he says.

Gant and his friend loaded into a car and took off for the local emergency room. He had suffered third-degree burns all down his leg and onto his foot, and two surgeries and five skin grafts later, he's still not 100 percent, he says.

The likely cause of the explosion: two lithium-ion batteries in the pocket of his Dickies—the same place he kept his lighter when he used to smoke actual cigarettes. But Gant, like 9 million other Americans, vapes. Now he speculates those batteries rubbed up against each other, causing them to ignite.

"After all this happened, I did some research, and apparently it's a huge no-no to keep batteries in your backpack or pocket, which I had no idea about," he says. There were "no warnings of any kind" printed on the batteries, Gant claims.

Still, Gant wasn't planning to sue until a lawyer reached out to him directly. "I figured, why not? If nothing else, it'll just raise awareness," he explains.

Exploding e-cigs have become rich targets for personal-injury attorneys looking to cash in big on settlements. Dozens of law firms now have web pages dedicated to exploding vape pen accidents. (Google "exploding vape," and the first result is an ad from NYC injury attorneys Cellino and Barnes.) It's easy to understand why.

In Idaho, a vape pen blew up in a man's mouth, shattering his face and forcing doctors to retrieve bits of plastic from his throat. A Colorado man suffered a broken neck while using his e-cig when it exploded violently, and a 19-year old in Tennessee burned his stomach and thigh when his vape exploded in his pocket. The FDA has identified 134 incidents of e-cig batteries overheating, catching on fire, or exploding in the US between 2009 and January 2016, enough to prompt them to host a public workshop to "gather information and stimulate discussion" this April in Maryland.

"What we're seeing a lot of is individuals with spare batteries that get overcharged. They're putting them in their pocket, maybe they have a little bit of change in there, and they explode," says Domenic Sanginiti, an attorney at the New Jersey law firm Stark & Stark. Sanginiti has filed seven e-cigarette cases, including Gant's, and is handling many more. "It's a lot more affordable for manufacturers to utilize cheap batteries,"  he says. There's A through D quality batteries, D being batteries that would be qualified to be used in the States. We're seeing A- and B-quality batteries that are sent overseas, repackaged by vape manufacturers, and are sold at a cheap price."

Lithium-ion batteries are used in a wide array of consumer products—everything from power tools to laptops—and are usually pretty dependable. But as the Samsung Galaxy s7 debacle and several exploding hover-boards have proved, they're not allcreated equal.

Doug Gant's leg. Photos via Doug Gant.

The science at play here is pretty simple. An exposed lithium ion battery can brush up against a piece of metal and short out. When that happens, there's a sudden blast of electrolytes that causes an extreme surge of heat, and a subsequent explosion. This isn't exactly an unknown risk—some vape users buy plastic battery cases for storage. But cheaply made batteries have a significantly higher chance of being defective. And the industry is growing at an astounding clip—up to $32.11 billion in the United States alone by 2021 by some estimates.

"The real problem is with these 'me too' companies. Companies that are under-financed, and launch a thing that's not very thought out that maybe has a second-rate battery," says Mike Papantonio, a Florida-based civil trial lawyer, talk show host, and member of the National Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. "These companies are gonna wreak havoc in this area, because they're in and then they're out. It's a methodology of externalizing all the risk, taking all the profits quickly, and moving out of the market quickly."

Sanginiti doesn't believe this will be a problem for long, but while it is, lawyers will lawyer.

"It's not a ten-year issue, it's more of a four- or five-year issue," he says. Eventually he believes federal regulation—which was just implemented last August—will kick in, and weed out the bad actors. Until then, he and other lawyers will be there to collect settlements for clients who, like Gant, may not know where to turn.

There's certainly money to be made. In 2015, for instance, a woman named Jennifer Ries in California was awarded nearly $2 million after her vape pen exploded in a car charger

"When you look at how they're handling the claims, they're using the Big Tobacco mold," Sanginiti says. "They just say 'We'll just pay it. We'll fight it, and if we lose, we'll pay it.'" And lawyers like Sanginiti are happy to help assist.

Gant, meanwhile, is back at work, not yet fully recovered. He doesn't have any existential hopes riding on a settlement, but is glad someone let him know it was a possibility. (Though Sanginiti reached out to Gant, he says most clients contact him, not the other way around.)

"There's still medical bills that need to be paid, I'm still an injured person. My foot took the brunt of it, and I still feel pain there." he says. "It's just like, I had no idea. I had no idea this could happen."

Follow Luke Winkie on Twitter.

Save $10 On Amazon’s Already-Stupid-Cheap Fire Tablet, and Get Some Free Accessories

Amazon’s Fire Tablet doesn’t exactly feature bleeding edge technology, but hey, it’s a perfectly good portable TV screen and web browser for like $50. Today, you can get the upgraded 16GB version (which retails for $70), a case, and a screen protector all for $60 with promo code FIREBUNDLE. Yes, that’s $10 less than…


A Giant King Kong Statue Burst into Flames at a Movie Premiere in Vietnam

The problem with throwing a lavish movie premiere with torch-wielding fire dancers and a simulated erupting volcano is that when the whole scene catches on fire, attendees may think it's part of the show. At least, that's what happened at the Vietnamese premiere of Kong: Skull Island in Ho Chi Minh City.

The decorations, which included an enormous statue of Kong, went ablaze while some dancers were performing with torches on a stage set up near the theater entrance. 

AFP reports that the owners of the Vivo City shopping mall, where the event was held, believe the fire was started by a torch left behind by a dancer, but Sky News claims that the fake volcano sparked the blaze when fire shot out to dazzle attendees upon arrival.

Whatever the source, the fire quickly caught and spread to the gorilla sculpture and other parts of the mall. Initially, partygoers were wowed and watched amazed, but as the 16-foot statue was engulfed in flames, they ran for safety, staying just close enough to record the calamity on their phones. 

Fire crews arrived on the scene and extinguished the flaming monster in about 15 minutes, which is a lot shorter than it takes for Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and Samuel L. Jackson to defeat King Kong in the new movie, which was mostly filmed in Vietnam. 

There were reportedly no injuries among attendees, which included representatives from the American consulate, as well as Vietnamese diplomats and celebrities.