Russian Rocket Launch Ignites Killer Grass Fire

A large grass fire triggered by a Russian rocket launch on Wednesday has killed one Kazakh man and hospitalized another. According to the AFP, pieces of the rocket fell to Earth after it launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome—the site where Sputnik 1 took off in 1957. Incredibly, the debris set off a fire that spread about 9.5 miles (15 kilometers) across.

Local authorities report the fire erupted after a Soyuz 2.1a rocket launched from Baikonur at 0920 GMT. The rocket successfully delivered a supply ship to the ISS, but left tragedy in its wake. Both victims of the blaze were employed by rocket firm NPO Mashinostroyeniya to clean up debris—but when the fire erupted, flames engulfed one man’s car, killing him. Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, attributed the fire to extreme heat in the fallout region.

At this time, not much is known about the second victim’s state. Gizmodo will continue to monitor the situation and issue updates.

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