One of the few benefits to living in an actual combat zone is the imminent danger pay. This is a small stipend paid to soldiers in designated places around the world that Congress feels puts them at risk of actually loosing their lives, or worse, their ability to play video games. Such is Iraq, most of it anyway. Well, in my little corner of Iraq imminent danger is generally kept at bay. Generally.
Today, as we all sat around in anticipation of the imminent election projections, there was an extremely large explosion about a quarter mile away that shook the building we were in and threatened to blow out the windows. I'm told these things always come in groups of 5 to 10 if they are mortar attacks. Well, this seemed to be an isolated explosion so we slowly ventured out to see if we could ascertain what had happened. That's when my First Sergeant was heard to say, "That Fu@#*& is burning down!" We looked to the horizon an there were flame shooting up about 100 plus feet with an occasional explosion type ball of fire and smoke like you'd see in a movie. It was both terrible and beautiful. None of the subsequent explosions were as loud or produced the kind of shock we all felt after the initial boom.
The primary assessment was that a rocket had hit the compound (the initial explosion) near a fuel depot (the subsequent explosions). However, the investigation the next day concluded that a connex (a small outdoor storage building) full of acetylene tanks had ignited when a spark produced when a soldier shut the large metal door lit the contents of one of the canisters that had a small leak. Acetylene is used for welding and is extremely flammable and explosive. The soldier at the door received very serious wounds and burns over much of his body and is not expected to live. Two others were injured as well. I am unsure of their disposition.
So today we earned our pay.