An unexploded can of surströmming. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT
Firefighters set to tackle exploding propane bottles realized that they were actually facing cans of fermented herring reacting to a blaze at a fishing hut in northern Sweden. The 1,000 tins of surströmming contained one of the most putrid-smelling delicacies in the world.
"It was terrible. I can't get my head around what happened. It seems unreal," hut owner Hans-Erik Englundh told the regional Hela Hälsingland newspaper.
Englundh, who owns the canning company, explained that he was asleep on Thursday morning when the fisherman's hut caught fire in Borkbo. A neighbour alerted him to the fire and called emergency services.
There were four people sleeping in the hut when Englundh reached the scene, but all escaped without injury. The 1,000 cans of surströmming, a pungent herring fermented in brine, weren't so lucky.
Police reported that they heard explosions from within the hut, thinking at first that it was propane bottles, but later realizing it was fermenting herring cans. The surströmming was canned last year, which meant that the tins were filling with gases from the fermentation process, and were likely already bulging. The flames reacted with the gases and caused the explosions.
Officers have launched an investigation into the blaze, as a cause could not be determined on the scene.