As bad as your day can get, I can assure you someone has it worse. And Tuesday morning, Australian firefighters had it the absolute worst.
A fire broke out at the Yarram Herd Services, a genetics laboratory in Gippsland, Victoria. As firefighters tried to fight the fire, the fire fought back.
How often do you get to see a headline like this?
Now, before we get into all the fun this headline promises, it is important to point out the kind of danger these firefighters were in.
Country Fire Authority Gippsland commander Chris Lowschenkohl told ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) News,
"So firefighters went into a defensive mode initially to protect themselves, because there were also LPG cylinders at the neighboring property, and they did a magnificent job."
LPG stands for liquefied petroleum gas. If the fire wasn't contained, it would have been possible for it to spread to that facility and cause untold destruction.
These firefighters did an important job and should be congratulated.
And now that all of that is out of the way: Holy moly!
Did you see that headline?
Yarram Herd Services provides breeding advice, genetic testing and artificial insemination services for the local farmers. Their facility housed around 100 cryogenic cylinders full of semen for such purposes.
Those containers were well sealed, but the fire was heating them up. The contents inside expanded from the heat, and made the tops pop off, launching the contents out like a projectile.
Firefighters had to dodge missiles made of semen while putting out a dangerous fire that had the possibility of setting off even more massive explosions.
This is the best movie idea ever.
Now, this isn't all fun and games. This was the livelihood of a lot of people.
Yarram Herd Services will have a lot to recover from here, but the cylinders alone were valued between $500 and $1000 AUD, excluding the, um... contents.
Aaron Thomas, Vice Chairman of the Yarram Herd Services Committee said,
"We're coming into the AI [Artificial Insemination] season so there would have been substantial amounts of semen inside the tanks that we've lost, which was owned by our local farmers, and it can range in value from $5 per straw to $95 per straw."
I want to stress that this is a terrible loss for the local farmers. They're already dealing with the effects of a drought that's making them lose up to 70 percent of their regular income and this is just making things worse.
But I would be remiss in my job if I didn't mention how Aaron Thomas, Vice Chairman of the Yarram Herd Services Committee, described this effect on those farmers.
"It's going to be a huge blow, especially for our farmers."
And I'm spent.
Bulls aren't alone in the quest for perfect breeding. The book The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, available here, tells the story of a more human effort.
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