About 27 tons of cheese caught fire as it was being transported by truck last week. The fire raged for five days, causing massive traffic blockages and closing the Brattli Tunnel in Tysfjord, Norway.
The tunnel was badly damaged, and is likely to remain closed for several weeks, according to officials. The toxic fumes and smoldering flames caused by the long-lasting fire have kept officials out of the tunnel, unable to begin the clean-up process.
“We can’t go in until it’s safe,” geologist Viggo Aronsen told Norwegian news.
So what could possibly make something as benign as cheese cause such a ruckus? The 27 tons of cheese in question was actually a delicacy called Brunost, and is a caramelized brown goat cheese. The high concentration of fat and sugar in the cheese makes it highly flammable at high temperatures. Officer Viggo Berg reported that the delicacy can burn “almost like petrol” if it gets hot enough.
No one was hurt in the fire. The driver transporting the cheese noticed fire in his truck trailer. He abandoned the truck about 1,000 feet from the southern entrance to the tunnel.
Kjell Bjoern Vinje, of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, said it was the first time he could remember cheese catching fire on Norwegian roads.
“I didn’t know that brown cheese burns so well,” he said.
Some other flammable foods are garlic, flour, bacon, alcohol-based sauces, and ultra-sugary foods such as hard candies and peanut brittle. All of these foods are innocuous until met with extremely high temperatures.