Employee Using Blow Torch To Kill Weeds Started Ramstein Burger King Fire

U.S. Air Force photo

The Easter fire that destroyed the Burger King on Ramstein Air Base in April was started by an employee using a blow torch to kill weeds outside the building, German authorities said Monday.

The investigation into the fire’s cause determined that a 36-year-old German accidentally sparked the blaze, said Thomas Lissmann, senior public prosecutor with the Zweibruecken prosecutor’s office.

The blaze quickly consumed the building and burned for hours, gutting the restaurant. Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials estimated the structural loss at $1.6 million.

Lauren Katzenberg

Lissmann said it’s not certain whether the employee will face charges for “negligent arson.” At minimum, the man could be required to pay a fine or receive a written warning without any further penalty.

Blow torches for lawn care are popular in Germany, where the use of potentially harmful chemicals is generally frowned upon. The typical device consists of a hose and nozzle attached to a propane tank and releases a small, but powerful flame.

Lissmann said that people often underestimate how quickly a fire can start when using these burners. “Especially, when it is dry and someone is using an open fire, something can happen very quickly,” he said.

Despite Burger King’s location on a U.S. military facility, German authorities had jurisdiction over the investigation because no U.S. military member was involved, Lissmann said.

Military officials “did not pursue an independent investigation because the incident was not an on-duty accident or mishap and it was not connected to the duties of Air Force personnel,” Capt. Kay Nissen, U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa spokeswoman, said in a statement.

AAFES already had plans to demolish Burger King, which was built in 1989 and last renovated in 2008. A new combined Burger King and Arby’s drive-thru is scheduled to be finished by August 2019, AAFES officials said.


©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Pictured left to right: Pedro Pascal ("Catfish"), Garrett Hedlund ("Ben"), Charlie Hunnam ("Ironhead"), and Ben Affleck ("Redfly") Photo Courtesy of Netflix

A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.

Read More Show Less
Army Sgt. Daniel Cowart gets a hug from then-Dallas Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty. Photo: Department of Defense

The Distinguished Service Cross was made for guys like Sgt. Daniel Cowart, who literally tackled and "engaged...in hand to hand combat" a man wearing a suicide vest while he was on patrol in Iraq.

So it's no wonder he's having his Silver Star upgraded to the second-highest military award.

Read More Show Less
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.

The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.

I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)

The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.

On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.

Read More Show Less