Two years ago, Allan Hovland became enthralled with flamethrowers.
“It was just one of those things. I was looking at a YouTube video of somebody using a flamethrower and I thought, ‘I gotta have that. That looks like so much fun,’” he told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
The trouble was, even after spending $450 to order a flamethrower online, he couldn’t enjoy it.
That’s because at the time he lived in California, the only state where flamethrowers are illegal for the general public to use. So, he had to have it shipped to a friend in a neighboring state and was able to use his new toy only during camping trips outside of California.
“It’s good for lighting campfires, in a fun way,” Hovland said.
Things have changed since Hovland, a retired financial advisor, moved to Sheridan a few months ago.
Now he can fire up his XM-42 Flamethrower Lite whenever he pleases.
“It’s nice to be somewhere where freedoms are appreciated,” he said. “I’ve used it to melt ice in my driveway. It’s highly effective.”
Legal In 49 States
Outside of California, flamethrowers are legal for and generally only loosely regulated.
There have been attempts to impose regulations on flamethrowers similar to those for firearms, but those attempts have so far failed, according to Ohio-based Throwflame.
The Ohio company offers numerous models of flamethrowers, including a drone-mounted flamethrower that can take the conflagration airborne.
The company Hovland ordered his from, X Products, requires that purchasers check off a liability waiver before completing their orders.
Hovland said he’s also used his flamethrower to terminate weeds on his property, and he’s taken it out target shooting.
“It’s one more thing to shoot the targets with,” he said. “I mean, after they’re all shot full of holes, you’ve just got to light them on fire.”
He’s heard of flamethrowers being used to eliminate nests of wasps, but that’s an application he’s not too sure about.
“I wouldn’t want to risk setting the eaves of my house on fire,” he said. “And if the nest was in a tree, I’d be worried about setting the tree on fire.”
The flamethrower is simple to maintain, he said.
The nozzle torch is fed by a small container of butane mounted on the handle. An electric fuel pump with a rechargeable 12-volt battery “squirts whatever flammable liquid you want to use,” Hovland said.
“I’ve mostly used gasoline,” he said. “But I’ve tried alcohol and ethanol. It’s take your pick.”
So far, Hovland has used the small, hand-carried fuel tank his flamethrower came with. But he’d like to upgrade to a larger backpack-style fuel tank.
“I’ve been waiting for extra money to build up in the ‘fun fund’ to pay for a backpack tank” that will probably cost about $400, he said.
And he and some friends might someday go mobile with the fire-spewing device.
“We have toyed with the idea of mounting it on the front of a quad to take it out to an unpopulated area and see if we can burn through a snowbank,” he said.