A fire caused by a flaming shipment of gourmet cheese has shut down a northern Norwegian traffic tunnel, a closure that will could last for weeks as the damage is repaired.
This tale of dairy woe may sound like an isolated incident, but the truth is in fact a lot weirder: flaming cheese disasters are somewhat common, thanks to the fatty, sometimes sugary nature of everyone's favorite dairy product.
Don't get too worried, however: it's unlikely that you'll meet your demise by way of overcooked grilled cheese sandwich.
"Consumers do not have to worry that cheese will spontaneously combust," Sebastian Cianci of the Food and Drug Administration told GlobalPost.
"Keep in mind that the ignition temperature will vary depending on the moisture content and fat content of the cheese," he added.
Below, we look at some remarkable incidents of cheese-related fires.
Norway Flaming Cheese Traffic Boogaloo
The BBC reports that the Norwegian disaster began when a 27 ton shipment of goat's milk cheese caught fire inside the Brattli Tunnel in Tysfjord, Norway last week.
The cheese fire lasted five days and released dangerous toxic gases into the tunnel, making it dangerous for recovery workers to enter.
The cheese in question? A heaping shipment of Brunost, a brown-colored and sweet goat's milk cheese considered a delicacy by Norwegians, with a "fudge-like" texture.
Kjell Bjoern Vinje of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration helpfully pointed out to Reuters that this was the first burning cheese incident he'd heard of on Norwegian roads.
The Flaming Dairy of Somerset
There's something about Somerset, England and flaming cheese. Consider this:
In 2011, a 24-ton shipment of cheese caught fire in Somerset, causing a noxious blaze that led to the closure of a rural road and a dedicated clean-up effort by police and firefighters — who doubtless thought that would be the last cheese-related disaster they'd have to deal with in their working lives.
Hundreds of tons of cheese caught fire, forcing hundreds of firefighters to respond to the scene and at least 10 fire crews working at the same time to contain the flames.
The massive fire was "one of the biggest" ever in the county, wrote the Daily Mail.
Deadly New Zealand Cheese Fires
A deadly New Zealand cheese fire began back in 2008 at a Hamilton cool-store facility, when a large quantity of cheese erupted into a massive fat fire, said TV NZ.
Between 70 and 100 firefighters responded to the blaze during a night-long firefight, and neighbors in the area had to be evacuated due to choking smoke. One firefighter was tragically killed in an explosion of flame from the burning building.
TV NZ reported that a "film of greasy black soot" was left over the area.
But that's not the only destructive cheese factory fire in New Zealand in recent memory. In 2004, a Blenheim facility was completely gutted, leaving 45 staff jobless, wrote the New Zealand Herald. Although it's unknown what caused the fire, its origin in the main cheese hall is definitely suspicious.
Macaroni and Cheese Crisis Averted
On Monday, a St. Petersburg, Fla. man was celebrating his 76th birthday alone with the company of a pan and macaroni and cheese — which then caught fire on the stove after he fell asleep, said the Tampa Bay Times.
A soldier visiting his mother in the apartment next door was alerted to the blaze by a fire alarm, and was able to successfully rescue the elderly man from the blaze. Ignoring one's reheated macaroni and cheese may be a dangerous endeavor, indeed.
Fondue: The Silent Menace
Fondue may be a delicious Swiss treat, but the combination of flames, melted cheese, and a healthy quantity of kirsch (a brandy used to give the mixture flavor) makes it something of a fire hazard.
Indeed, fondue is so worrisome that a group of Canadian researchers carried out a 1992 study on burns caused by both fondue pots and their cheesy contents, concluding that "preventive action" to curb the this "public health problem" was sorely needed in fondue-loving Quebec.
Fondue is particularly dangerous during the holidays, when it's the basis for many holiday meals. Consider a Christmas Eve fondue-related house fire in Nanaimo, Canada, which began when the fondue flame set off a flash fire, eventually incinerating the family Christmas tree as well as the house. No one died, although a young woman and her mother both suffered burns.
In other Canadian flaming-cheese misfortune, a Montreal woman sued her hostess for $24,050 back in 1977, after a fondue burner exploded and "splattered her with molten cheese."
That's not all: in 2002, two Jacksonville Jaguars football players were seriously burned when one man accidentally dropped a fondue pot at a dinner party, wounding both players and one woman.
Flaming Cheese as Greek Delicacy
Flaming cheese is considered a delicacy when it comes to Saganaki, a Greek specialty that's created when you set goat's milk cheese on fire with a little assistance from brandy, or other alcohol. Albeit in smaller quantities than in the Norwegian case.
It's unknown how many fires can be attributed to this restaurant specialty, but the blogger over at Food for the Thoughtless ruminated on the dish's potential for mayhem (but suggests you eat it anyway). There's also this deeply worrisome near-miss involving saganaki and an oxygen tank.