Buyers travel thousands of miles to pick up first batch of Elon Musk's flamethrowers

The first batch of flamethrowers sold by Elon Musk’s tunnel construction business The Boring Company have been handed out to customers – with some people traveling thousands of miles to pick one up.

The Tesla entrepreneur had suggested the idea of selling a flamethrower at the end of 2017, with the project aiming to raise $10m for The Boring Company, which was founded with the intention of building a network of tunnels to help reduce traffic congestion across the US.

Mr Musk claimed that the company had sold 20,000 of the $500 in four days in during January this year, with the first flamethrowers handed out at Boring’s Hawthorne, California offices over the weekend. 

The event took place in a car park adjacent to another of Mr Musk’s companies – SpaceX – with the tech billionaire announcing on Twitter that the first 1,000 flamethrowers were bring picked up.

Mr Musk has called the item “Not-a-flamethrower” to get around any legal issues of shipping items called flamethrowers, but some customers could not wait to get it into their hands.

Dennis Dohrman drove more than 2,500 miles from North Carolina to California. “Imagine if you had the opportunity to get a kite and a key from Benjamin Franklin,” the environmental scientist, 45, told Bloomberg.

Mr Musk tweeted the terms and conditions from the company for use of the flamethrower and advised customers to “please use as directed to avoid unintentionally  burning things down.”

The announcement of the sale of the flamethrowers was met with criticism from some local politicians. Miguel Santiago, who serves in the California State Assembly, filed legislation to try and block their sale.

“We’ve now seen some of the worst wildfires in California’s history, so handing out flame torchers for $500 is a really bad idea and bad public policy,” he said at the time.

Mr Santiago’s bill was stalled late last month by being held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and will likely never see a vote.

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