February 19, 2016, at around 8 pm Paul Wilmotts body was discovered amongst the rubble of what was once his home, his remains were so badly distorted in the blast he could only be identified by dental records. The exact cause of his death and the explosion had remained a mystery up until the release of a coroner’s report in the last few days.

The Coroner was told at the subsequent inquest that the explosion had been caused by a gas leak but the possible cause of that is rather odd indeed. Speaking at an inquest in York England two days ago Dr. Elizabeth Grear from the University of Nottingham said that the gas leak was caused by “stress corrosion cracking” going on to explain that this was due to water damage possibly from recent flooding and formic acid. Continuing she said:

The ant nest which was found near to the fracture which occurred and organic acids are known to attack copper – it is that which is astonishing. Ants produce this Formic Acid which attacks copper. It seems unique and coincidental that it seemed to be an ant nest there. That (the ant nest) may well have contributed to the corrosion of the pipe over time.’’

The devastation was so complete that the first emergency personnel on the scene thought there had been a plane crash.

I think it is absolutely fascinating that some of our smallest creatures can cause show much destruction. Next time you see an ant exploring your kitchen don’t use a naked flame to search out its nest………


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