Smoking at a Munitions Depot May Harm You and Others Around You

By Bryan Le 10/12/12

A hapless Russian army private's dropped butt detonates 4,000 tons of explosives.

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The dangers of smoking, as seen from
a nearby town.
Photo via

Still need yet another reason to quit smoking? Russian army private Alexander Kasatkin probably doesn't: not content to rely on deadly secondhand smoke, he almost killed himself and everyone around him in a catastrophic explosion. The hapless nicotine addict was unloading ammo from a train at a depot in the Ural Mountains when he finished his cigarette, carelessly flung it away, and sparked a raging inferno that involved the unexpected detonation of no fewer than 4,000 metric tons of artillery munitions. Miraculously, only one officer was injured. Kasatkin manfully owned up to his mistake, and could face up to three years in prison or a fine of about $30,000. In his defense, the incident was no one-off: Russian military depots regularly see fires that burn for days—which is what happens when you mix compulsory enlistment with a general neglect for fire safety. Over 50 people have been killed and 300 injured in similar incidents in recent years.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter