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Bolas de Fuego, the Annual Fireball Street Fight in El Salvador

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 03, 2019

Every year on Aug 31, the residents of Nejapa, El Salvador throw flaming kerosene-soaked balls at each other in the streets surrounded by thousands of onlookers, with little apparent concern for the safety of the participants or onlookers. Just check out this madness:

The event is called Bolas de Fuego and it started almost 100 years ago as a religious commemoration of a 1658 volcanic eruption.

Residents in the town of Nejapa in El Salvador have been commemorating a volcanic eruption in 1658 which destroyed the town, by hurling fireballs at each other.

The annual event has been a tradition since 1922 and the fireballs are said to represent the local Christian saint, Jeronimo, fighting the devil inside the volcano with his own balls of fire.

I found out about Bolas de Fuego from travel writer Amelia Rayno, who went to this year’s festival. In her photo and videos from that night, you can see the gloves that the participants wear and get a sense of just how close the onlookers are and how fast & furious those fireballs are getting thrown around. Jiminy.

Update: Rayno made a YouTube video of her Bolas de Fuego experience.