The Darwin Awards

1999 Darwin Awards

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Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it.

Flames of Passion
1999 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin

(17 November 1999, Germany) Germany's long-held image as a peaceful Utopia has been tarnished by an acrimonious divorce. After bitter divorce proceedings, 40-year-old Uwe of Brandenburg found that he had lost everything but his lederhosen knickerbockers. Among other possessions, the settlement demanded that Uwe turn over ownership of his house to his newly-estranged wife, Verena.

Enraged by his 37-year-old wife's unmitigated legal victory, the forty-year-old man decided to follow the sage advice of an obscure German proverb: "If life gives you lemons, burn them." Descending into the basement with his trusty drill, Uwe proceeded to bore several holes into a rather large oil tank. He then set fire to the fuel as it poured in erratic streams onto the floor. To his delight, the entire basement was engulfed in flames within seconds.

His joy turned to ashes, however, when he realized that he was now in the middle of a Hindenburg-sized house fire. Despite a valiant effort to save himself, Uwe died in the flames of his own vengeance. Verena got the last laugh, which acquaintances described as "maniacal."

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Submitted by: Anthony Rainer
Guest Writer: Troy Plattner
Reference: Düsseldorf Express

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Benoît Côté says, "This story doesn't convince me, but maybe heating oil is different in Europe. Canadian heating oil will not catch fire even if streamed against a flame. In the furnace it burns only because a fine vapourization gives it a suitable air-oil mixture. The story "works" only if the liquid was volatile, like gasoline."

Dean says, "It may have been possible to ignite the oil if the holes in the tank were fairly small, and there was enough presure to force the liquid out in a spray, instead of just pouring. This could render enough of the oil aerosol for him to ignite it."

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