A Russian astronaut accidentally set fire to space, Saturday, after flouting international regulations on naked flames above the stratosphere. It was initially thought the blaze was related to the lighting of the Olympic torch, outside the International Space Station. Now, though, it can be revealed that the conflagration was started by Ivan Smytna, who aplogised, saying: "I was going to jokily pretend to light the torch with my gas lighter. But then, as a distraction I was going to pass the unlit torch to my friend Mikhail, and nip round the back of the space vehicle for a sneaky cigarette outside the rear hatch, where there are no cameras. That's where it happened, but honestly neither I nor the scientific community had any idea space was flammable. All the same, I apologise unreservedly for any Armageddon caused."
Russian astronauts are the last to agree to a total smoking ban aboard their own space vehicles, although until 2010 smoking was allowed but restricted to "special areas" aboard Russian craft.
It is not yet known how widespread the space fire might become, but according to international law, any fire in space is the responsibility of the fire authority vertically below it on earth. This turns out to be the Isle of Wight Fire Authority, whose part time chief Don Smythe promised a swift reaction. "We have already done an initial feasibility study on funding and eventually building a firefighting spacecraft to be launched from Ventnor, as early as 2023. Because of the likely scale of the task, we have initiated co-funding talks with Hampshire County Council. These will take place after netball practice on Fridays in Cowes County Council annexe, if we can get the hall. One of our volunteer firefighters has got a lot of 'The Sky at Night' on VHS, so obviously we're ahead of the game, research wise, if she can find them."
Don Smythe, admired locally as a "chipfire veteran" who is set to retire next year continued: "We are monitoring the fire in space using a powerful zoom lens on my friend Chris's new SLR, and obviously if universal obliteration is threatened in any way, shape or form, we will be the first to discuss evacuation plans with the international community at large. In the meantime all we can do is encourage people to check the fuse ratings on their electric blankets as temperatures drop. We have also cancelled station visits by infant schools duing the crisis, which I know will disappoint many. As I understand it from the Physics Department at Shanklin Metro University (thanks Maureen, by the way, for your help with this) space is a big old place and the fire up there is comparatively small, at the moment, so panic is probably un-necessary till we can crunch some numbers. All the same I appeal to Blockbusters in Shanklin to stop lending tapes of any of those end of the world movies starring Tom Cruise or even Cillian Murphy."
Mrs Mary Smythe will feature in a fold out colour special in the Ryde Times called "The Real Thunderbirds" about being married to a fire chief turned space hero. She took time out from her wool shop duties to tell the paper: "Everything they say about firemen is true, almost. These new developments are especially exciting, and if Don can squeeze in an early hometime during the crisis, especially on an early closing day, I have got a special treat for him!"