Tech nerds, pyromaniacs and the curious turned up in Los Angeles Saturday to collect hundreds of recreational flamethrowers purchased from the latest company created by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. A tweet from Musk urged people to avoid "unintentionally burning things down."
Musk sold 20,000 of his latest bizarre consumer products at $500 (R6 535) a pop, apparently to raise both funds and awareness of his futuristic new transportation tube project in Los Angeles.
People initially thought he was kidding when he sold the flamethrowers — and then promised to deliver them at "pick up parties." The devices shoot flames four feet from the nozzle of what looks like an Airsoft rifle with a small propane tank attached at the top.
"I love fire," a 28-year-old tech company owner told The Guardian after picking up his new flamethrower in a rectangular white box at SpaceX. "I play with torches and gasoline all the time so this is the ultimate toy that I'll play with for all my life."
Buyers did fun things on site afterward like using the flamethrower to toast marshmallows.
Musk calls his product "Not a Flamethrower" because it doesn't shoot flame 10 feet away, as industrial or military flamethrowers do. He announced after he put them up for sale that they're a "super terrible idea."
While buyers were collecting some 1,000 flamethrowers at SpaceX, a brush fire north of the city in Santa Clarita shut down roads and sparked evacuations. Southern California suffered one of its worst fire seasons in history last year.
Tweets from Musk made light of safety concerns. He posted a copy of the "terms and conditions" which were set to the cadence of Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham," such as: "I will not use this in a house. I will not point this at my spouse."
Democratic state Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles has called the flamethrowers "incredibly insensitive, dangerous and most definitely not funny." He introduced a bill earlier this year to require permits for the product. But the measure failed after gun advocates opposed it.
The flamethrowers were sold by Musk's The Boring Company, which is creating a 2.7-mile test tunnel in Los Angeles for a pedestrian transit system.
The flamethrowers are already being offered on eBay for several thousand dollars, CNN Money reports. An instruction manual was for sale for $250 (R6 535).