Man rescued from burning tent by Swedish fire-eater

A fire-breathing Swede is receiving praise after saving a man from a burning tent at a Viking market in southern Sweden early on Sunday morning.

Man rescued from burning tent by Swedish fire-eater

Zack Segelström is a professional fire-eater who holds the Guinness world record for having spit flames to an astonishing height of three metres.

”I wouldn’t say that I play with fire, but I work with it. You shouldn’t take risks which are too big, as it’s a living substance. It’s a question of judgment,” Segelström told the Blekinge Läns Tidning (BLT) newspaper.

Segelström’s judgment came in handy in the wee hours of Sunday morning following a day performing at the Gudahagen Viking market in Näsum in southern Sweden

He awoke to a scream and peered out of his camper to see a nearby tent engulfed in flames.

The tent had caught fire after the person sleeping inside accidentally knocked over a kerosene lamp.

Segelström shot out of bed and rushed over to the tent, while at the same time calling the fire department.

He then scrambled through the flames and managed to drag out the tent’s occupant, who was suffering from burns and smoke inhalation.

“I felt like I didn’t have any choice,” Segelström told BLT.

The injured man was taken to hospital and was able to return home the following day.

As for Segelström, he was off to his next fire-breathing engagement and took the whole matter in stride.

“It was just an accident,” he said of the incident.

“The fire was a sad end to a really great day.”


Why is Sweden called Sweden? The Local answers Google’s questions

Why is Sweden called Sweden? Why is Sweden so depressing? Why is Sweden so rich?  In a new series of articles, The Local answers some of the most common questions that appear when you type "Why is Sweden..." into the Google search engine.  

Why is Sweden called Sweden? The Local answers Google's questions
Why is Sweden actually called Sweden? Let's find out. Photo: Google screenshot

The short answer to “why is Sweden called Sweden?” is that it’s not. It’s called Sverige

When The Local asked Henrik Williams, a Professor of Scandinavian Languages at Uppsala University, he also gave the question a short answer: “Because it’s inhabited by Swedes.” 

We can trace some form of the name back to at least the 13th century, when it was called Swearike in Old Swedish. That translates to “the kingdom of the Swear”.

Two thousand years ago, some of the people living in what is now known as Sweden were called Svear or Suiones, depending on which language you spoke and on how you spelled things (spelling varied greatly). 

The Roman historian Tacitus gives the first known description of the Svear in a book written in the year 93 CE, Germania

Everything comes down to this word, Svear, the name of the people. It means ‘we ourselves’. The Svear lived in Uppland just north of where Stockholm is now, until about the 11th century when they started expanding their territory. 

“It’s very common that people call themselves, either ‘we ourselves’ or ‘the people’” said Professor Williams. 

“We are ‘the humans’ and everybody else is something else. Everyone else is ‘them'”.

Of course, nobody uses the word in that way now, but it still forms the basis of the word Sweden.

The 8th century epic poem Beowulf gives the earliest known recorded version of the word Sweoland, land of the Swear

But at that time, there was no Sweden. Instead, the land was occupied by little kingdoms of Swedes and Goths (in present-day Götaland) and warring tribes of Vikings.

It’s unclear when the King of the Swear started referring to himself as the king of a country called Sweden, but it was probably around the time the country adopted Christianity in the 11th century. 

“Sweden” only came into regular use after 1750, when it replaced “Swedeland” in English. But in Scotland, “Sweden” had been used since the beginning of the modern era.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary in the early 17th century, people would use Sweden as the name of the people, and Swedeland as the name of the country. 

The first attested use of ‘Sweden’ was in a Scottish timber accounting log in 1503, which refers to “Sweden boards.” 

Most countries went from the Old Norse word Svíþjóð (which is still used to describe Sweden in Icelandic today) and turned it into something in their own languages, like the Old English Swíoríce, the Middle Dutch Zweden and High German Schweden

But it’s not called Sweden everywhere. 

In Finnish, Sweden is Ruotsi, in Estonian it’s Rootsi, and in Northern Sami Ruoŧŧa.

This comes from the root-word Rod, as in modern day Roslagen the coastal part of Uppland. It means rowing, or people who row. And because Finland was invaded by people from Roslagen, that’s how Finns referred to them.