I was once (2002) demoing the ISDN video calling system between remote sites of the college where I worked. Steerable cameras, zoom, multi-way calling, the lot. I was located up at a certain film studio which has now become incredibly famous thanks to a certain series of films about a wannabe wizard. The catering was being provided by the catering students from another campus, entertainment by the performing arts students. We had the mayor, a handful of MPs, a cabinet minister, loads of local business heads, many local headteachers etc. The whole of the training studios (a repurposed WW2 RAF officer's club) had been decked out with film props - mother Alien and auto guns, a squad of stormtroopers and Lord Vader, R2D2 & C3P0, the robot from Judge Dredd, the Aliens drop tank (totally awesome by the way, but f***ing uncomfortable to ride in). Anyway, I'm linked up to the main campus and another satellite campus, and the guys at the other end are panning around my cameras looking at all the cool stuff.
"Woah!" One said. "I'm surprised they let you have a pyro license."
"Huh? We didn't ask for one, I don't think."
"Well then the kitchen's on fire."
I looked behind me and sure enough, with 5 minutes to curtain, a deep fat fryer had developed a stuck thermostat and gone up like a rocket. Flames licking the ceiling, we had to rip out as many tea towels and fire blankets as we could find and smother the bastard. Tried dry powder layered in the tea towels and CO2 extinguishers to cool it down as well, but the bastard wouldn't go out. Burnt through six damp tea towels. You wouldn't believe how much energy must have been in that thing. It was covered in so many tea towels in the end it looked like an Arab trying to keep warm in the Arctic. Eventually we got the sodding thing under control just as the curtain went up, and managed to carry the table and the fryer outside where it could burn itself out to its heart's content.
When I got back to the video conferencing kit, my colleagues were cracked up. They had been watching the whole affair from afar and finding it utterly hilarious, but the worst thing was that the video feed which was supposed to be of the show had been replicated to the big screens in the main hall where the rest of the student body was watching in.
No animals were harmed in the making of this drama.