NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 15

Dispatches Oddities

HUH?

RECENT HEADSCRATCHERS
FROM THE WORLD OF
FIRE AND LIFE SAFETY

GETT Y IMAGES

BURNING GROUND
In April, the state of Pennsylvania
ordered a disused, 3/4-mile stretch of
Route 61 to be buried in truckloads of
dirt and closed off to the public once
and for all.
The stretch of road, which runs
through the mostly abandoned town
of Centralia, is anything but normal.
Sure, it's blanketed in colorful splashes
of graffiti, the source of its nickname as
Pennsylvania's Graffiti Highway, but it's
also unique in another, more alarming
way: it runs over ground that's been
burning for nearly 60 years.
In 1962, officials in Centralia started
a trash fire to get rid of garbage, and
the fire ignited a coal seam beneath
the town. The underground fire has
burned ever since, turning Centralia
into a ghost town over the years. The
Graffiti Highway, officials told CNN in
April, had become a tourist attraction
but also a liability. "I think a few weeks
ago, there was a fire there, people just
starting fires," a local coal company representative told CNN. "They're doing a
lot of damage to the community there,
and it's time that ends right now."

TP EMERGENCY
As the coronavirus pandemic began to
sweep the globe in March, frantic shoppers wiped shelves bare of cleaning
supplies and paper products, including
toilet paper.

Panic ensued, so much so that in
mid-March, the police department in
the small city of Newport, Oregon, felt
the need to issue a statement urging
residents not to dial 911 when their TP
stocks reached a critical low. "It's hard
to believe that we have to post this," the
department wrote on Facebook. "Do
not call 911 just because you ran out of
toilet paper."
So what's one to do when Mother
Nature calls and all that's left in the
bathroom is old People magazines and
a half-empty can of Febreze? As the
Newport Police Department suggested
in its post, it's time to get creative.
"History offers many other options,"
the department said. "Seamen used old
rope and anchor lines soaked in saltwater. Ancient Romans used a sea sponge
on a stick, also soaked in saltwater. We
are a coastal town. We have an abundance of saltwater available. Seashells
were also used. Mayans used corncobs.
Colonial Americans also used the core
of the cob." The department went on to
suggest 10 other toilet paper alternatives in its post, which was shared over
11,000 times.

BOY? GIRL? RAGING INFERNO?
The plan seemed simple enough: Use
a rifle to blast an explosive target that
had been jerry rigged to burst pink or
blue, announcing the sex of a Florida
couple's unborn child.
Things didn't go quite as planned at
the April 1 gender reveal party. Instead,
the explosive target sparked a 10-acre
brush fire in Brevard County, just east of
Orlando. Firefighters were able to control
the blaze in a matter of hours, preventing
any injuries or property damage.
"Something as seemingly innocent as
a gender reveal can turn into a largescale disaster," Brevard County Fire
Chief Mark Schollymeyer warned in an
interview with a local TV news station.

"We want to prevent those wildfires
started carelessly."
Fires and explosions related to
gender reveal parties are nothing new,
as it turns out, and some have inflicted
far more harm than the Florida incident. In October, an Iowa woman was
killed by flying debris from an explosion initiated during a gender reveal
party. In 2017, a gender reveal party
in Arizona led to the Sawmill Fire, a
wildland blaze that torched over 45,000
acres and resulted in $8 million in
property damage. That blaze, like the
Florida one, was also sparked by an
exploding gun target.

SAVING THE BACON
First it was a dog, then it was a turtle.
This time it's a pig.
For the third issue running, our
roundup of head-scratching fire and life
safety news features a fire-starting creature from the United Kingdom.
In early March, BBC News reported
that fire crews had been called to a
farm in Leeds, England, to respond
to a report of a blaze that had spread
through four pigpens. Apparently, the
pigs had been outfitted with pedometers to prove they were free-range.
After one pig ate the pedometer off of
another pig and the pedometer-eating
pig defecated, the copper inside the
pedometer battery reacted with the
pig's feces, as well as the dry bedding
inside the pens, and ignited a fire.
About 800 square feet of hay burned
in the fire, according to a Twitter post
from the North Yorkshire Fire and
Rescue Service. "A hose reel was used to
extinguish the fire and save the bacon,"
the department tweeted.
Previously, a dog in Yorkshire started
a house fire when it inadvertently
turned on a microwave that had bread
stored in it, and a tortoise started a
house fire in Essex when it knocked a
heat lamp onto its bedding.
N F PA . O R G / J O U R N A L * NFPA JOURNAL

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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Contents
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover1
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Contents
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover3
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover4
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