It shouldn’t be possible for a river, which is usually made up of water, to be set ablaze. But it has happened, of course, dozens of times throughout history (most infamously on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, at least twice), generally due to heavy pollution.
The phenomenon just occurred again in Australia. Jeremy Buckingham, a member of the country’s Parliament was able to—pretty easily, from the looks of the video—light up the Condamine River in the southeastern region of the country.
“Unbelievable,” he says in the video. “A river on fire.”
An energy company responsible for gas wells near the river denied that the methane was linked to fracking, saying, in part, “We understand that this can be worrying, however, the seeps pose no risk to the environment, or to public safety, providing people show common sense and act responsibly around them.”
Whether the methane is there because of fracking or not (it’s likely fracking), Buckingham’s video was alarming proof that at least one of Australia’s rivers was now combustible.
“I was shocked by [the] force of the explosion when I tested whether gas boiling through the Condamine River, [Queensland] was flammable,” Buckingham wrote on Facebook.
Or, as he says in the video, “Holy fuck!”