Make Sure the Tragic Christmas Fire Mistake Doesn't Happen to You

fireplaceYou've probably heard about the tragic fire that demolished a Connecticut home early Christmas morning. Three young girls and their grandparents died in that fire, but their mother and a family friend survived. I can't even imagine the anguish that the mother, Madonna Badger, is going through right now. At least it looks like arson wasn't the cause. But what officials think did cause the fire should make us all pause: Preliminary findings point to embers from the family's Christmas Eve yule log.

According to Stamford Chief Fire Marshall Barry Callahan, Ms. Badger's friend, Michael Borcina, removed the still-smoldering embers from the fireplace, placed them in either a bag or a container, and set them in a foyer of the home. As someone who grew up in a house with a fireplace this series of events made me gasp.


Of course, this is something any of us might do if we didn't know our fireplace safety. But it's a dangerous mistake. According to the U.S. Fire Administration -- and my dad -- you're supposed to soak the ashes in water and put them in a metal container outside the home. That's how dangerous those embers can be.

At any rate, if you happen to use your fireplace and aren't already familiar with safety guidelines, now is a really good time get a handle on that! I'm not saying Borcina is fully responsible for the fire -- it's still under investigation, and there were other factors involved, like that the house was still under construction. Lord knows the man must also be in agony at the thought the his actions could have led to the fire. I feel for him, too. But this is an opportunity for us all to think about fireplace safety. (By the way, other reports say the container or bag was placed outside the home.)

And it's also a good time to give your loved ones a few extra squeezes. The first thing I thought when I first read about this horrible story is, "this could happen to any of us at any time!" Sure, you can always unravel the story and find a series of unfortunate choices that lead to disaster. But life is full of quick judgement calls that we don't always get right. It pays to practice safety. And it pays to appreciate your family while you're all together.

Do you use your fireplace? How do you usually put out your fireplace fires?


Image via bucklava/Flickr



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