About 10 years ago, I bought a used van to drive back and forth to my cottage on weekends. It had previously been owned by a company called "Canada Dredge and Dock." This gave it some notoriety since they were at the time involved in a big local political scandal involving rigged bidding on dredging contracts.
One weekend at the cottage I was giving it a good cleaning out when I discovered a red cylinder labeled "Emergency Flare" in one of the door pockets. I thought "Well, that's not a bad thing to have in the car." and left it there. Sure enough, on the way home that weekend, we had a flat tire. I should say that our cottage is in the middle of a very popular vacation area north of Toronto, and the weekend in question was the combined Canadian July 1st and American July 4th holiday weekend. So the entire world was headed home on the same road.
I got out to change the tire and my brother-in-law said, "Have you got an emergency flare in the van?" I told him about the one I had found and he ran down the road a few hundred feet to set it up. I was under the van setting up the jack when I heard a loud pop. I looked out to see Ron running towards me yelling, "It's a marine flare."
That's right, Canada Dredge and Dock, being a largely marine based company, had left a marine emergency flare in their truck. In case anybody doesn't know, a marine flare is like a very powerful roman candle, shooting balls of light hundreds of feet up in the air so that drowning sailors will be seen by passing ships. They are NOT intended to be set off late at night on a busy highway.
The first ball had missed Ron's face by about 2 inches and the force had tipped the flare over onto the little mound that he had made to hold it in place. Now, as each ball came shooting out, the force would spin the flare on the little mound, so that no two went in the same direction. One of them shot right at us and passed between us as we stood no more than 5 feet apart. One of them shot back up the road at 3 lanes of oncoming traffic. One of them shot up into a farmer's field and started a small fire. Neither of us was about to go back and try to pick it up. Finally after about 7 or 8 shots, it stopped.
Amazingly, the shots that went up the highway came between platoons of traffic so nobody was hit, nobody even went off the road. Ron went and put out the fire, I changed the tire, and we drove to the nearest pull-off and sat there shaking for half an hour.