Let me stop you for a minute

Firefighters are called out on all sorts of missions besides putting out blazes. Spraying flame-retardant foam on an airport runway when a disabled plane is about to land, for instance. Or rescuing cats from the tops of trees. Or occasionally just saving people from themselves.

Case in point: Last week, the fire brigade in Giurgiu County, Romania, took a call from a concerned resident who happened to observe a neighboring farmer tuning up his hoes and scythes for the coming growing season by pounding on them with a hammer.

What's so alarming about that? Well, nothing ... if you discount the fact that he was resting the implements on an unexploded 122-mm artillery shell left over from World War II. He'd unearthed it in his vegetable garden some months ago and evidently saw its potential as an anvil. Apparently, it never occurred to him that the device could go off, with obvious ramifications for people, animals, and buildings in its blast path.

"How," wondered an incredulous spokesman for the fire department, "can you hit a bomb with a hammer? It could have exploded at any time." Fortunately – whew! – it didn't, and the fire department guys called in an Army ordnance team to dispose of it under controlled conditions. No word on what the farmer uses for an anvil now.

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