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Recurring Themes

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Some Americans continue to prefer to "do it themselves" to get rid of pests on their property, with tragic results. In June, Mike Harstad of Jamestown, Calif., attempting to eliminate a wasps' nest with a can of Pledge and a cigarette lighter, ultimately burned down his mobile home and contents and destroyed an outbuilding, a truck, a boat and a trailer.

In August, a Whitehall, Pa., man, William Sekol, 82, attempting to destroy a yellow jackets' nest beneath a storm sewer grate in his front yard, put a dried tree over the grate, doused it with gasoline, and lit it (supposedly to suffocate the yellow jackets underneath). However, some gasoline ran into the sewer, where its fumes combusted. In the resulting explosion, Sekol's mustache and eyebrows were singed.

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