A couple of weeks ago a small hole in Arkansas became a show-stopper, with a 12-foot (3.6 metre) high flame erupting out of it, which continued to burn at 8 feet (2.4 metres) for over 40 minutes.
Unfortunately, there are no pictures or video of the September 17 flame-shooting event (it happened at 4:30 am), but the locals’ reactions in subsequent reports more than make up for it.
Mickey Pendergrass, the county judge in Baxter County, wanted to put something to rest straight away.
“As far as the spiritual Satan goes, we’ve ruled that out,” Pendergrass said to Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “He didn’t come up and stick his pitchfork in the ground and blow that hole out.”
But what did cause the early morning ‘fire in the hole’ is still a mystery in Midway, Arkansas.
Geologists from the Arkansas Geological Survey found the hole to be dug out by some sort of animal, according to local news.
“They scoped the hole with a camera and determined it extended horizontal before intercepting a nearby drainage ditch about 10 feet away [3 metres] and 3 feet [1 metre] below the ground surface,” according to a report from the Geological Survey.
“It’s kind of like an old groundhog hole, burrow, or armadillo’s,” said Pendergrass. “But it’s been there a long time.”
But obviously animals who dig holes don’t usually release shoot up flames that are way taller than a person.
Apparently, there aren’t even any fuel lines in the area that might have leaked. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) also checked four underground storage fuel tanks in the area, but none showed any leakage.
“Based on ADEQ inspections, it does not appear that any of these tanks contributed to the fire,” according to a statement from the agency.
“We can’t speculate about other possible causes because we have not been trained to do investigations about such scenarios.”
Soil samples are currently being analysed, so hopefully we’ll have more answers soon.
“The soil samples should clear up any possibility of gasoline or anything else put down the hole or migrating groundwater contaminate such as gasoline,” Ty Johnson of the Geological Survey told AP News.
But the locals already have some more ideas.
“What kind of fuel did they use to make it so clean and no soot and no damage? And what was used to strike the fire to start with? There are just too many questions for it not to have been done on purpose, whether it was for fun or for giggles,” he said.
“Somebody will talk someday and have to brag about it, and then we’ll find out who did it.”
But rest assured, they’re pretty sure it wasn’t Satan.