'Block-Long Swarm Of Bees' Attacks Firefighters And Police

It probably takes a lot to terrify firefighters. They spit in the face of death for a living. The typical temperature of a house fire exceeds 1,000 degrees, according to Richmond, Virginia Fire Lieutenant Chris Armstrong. And if you battle blazes in California, a state that's clearly auditioning for the role of hell in a Hollywood film about armageddon, then you've probably faced conditions insane enough to make Satan break into a cold sweat. Yet when Matthew Busko arrived at the scene of a reported "animal bite" and found an infernal swarm of bees, he was filled with five-alarm fear.

"As soon as I got out, they attacked. I screamed like my 7-year-old daughter," Busko recalled. He had dealt with bee stings before, but this was a whole different animal. That animal was "most likely" an Africanized honeybee, a local beekeeper told CBS. More frighteningly known as the killer bee, it flies at you with more vinegar than honey and plays for keeps. Unfortunately for Busko and other first responders, tens of thousands of bees came out to play.

A killer sting operation

Speaking with the Huffington Post, Pasadena Fire Department spokesperson Lisa Derderian said, "The call over the radio was, 'There is a block-long swarm of bees." A local beekeeper estimated that that the swarm contained about 20,000 but other reports put the number as high as 40,000. They had likely gotten upset by the smoke from a nearby fire and unleashed their ire on frightened firefighters like Matthew Busko. They attacked firemen on ladders and cops on the ground. People got stung as many as 15 times in the face.

Though Busko screamed frantically, he couldn't silence his inner hero. His engineer was allergic to bees, so instead of running back to the firetruck to burn rubber, he tried to fight flyers with his fire hat. When that proved about as effective as fighting fire with a gasoline hose, Busko bolted like Usain. A block later he was still under fire from the swarm. He ultimately won the race for his life, crossing the finish line at the hospital. He wasn't alone. At least five people needed hospital treatment, including a second firefighter and a police officer.

It might sound like the humans got the raw end of this honeybee assault, but that swarm of literal buzzkills arguably had it worse. PBS explains that a honeybee can only sting you once because its abdominal dagger is firmly attached to its innards. This barbed blade functions like an animal-bite-sized harpoon, getting lodged into whomever's stuck. Once the honeybee has gone full Ahab and stabbed at thee from hell's heart, it rips out its own guts and bleeds to death.