Author(s): Angelo Verzoni. Published on August 24, 2021.

Four things we couldn’t believe happened in the world of fire and life safety over the summer

In each issue of NFPA Journal, we highlight some of the strangest stories to make headlines involving emergency response, fires, and other incidents that may resonate with NFPA members. Read our selections for the Fall issue below, and click here to read our roundup from the Summer issue.


1. Ho, ho, uh-oh! Nevada teen gets trapped in chimney 


Did Santa Claus come early in Henderson, Nevada, this year? Not quite. But a teenage girl did try to enter her home through the chimney in June. It didn’t go well.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the 18-year-old tried to squeeze through her home’s chimney after getting locked out. When she got stuck just above the flue, a neighbor phoned 911. Firefighters spent about 30 minutes extracting the girl.

“Henderson firefighters are trained for confined space rescue and pulled the uninjured girl to safety,” the department said, according to the newspaper.

It appears the girl was lucky to have been rescued—many others have met a sadder fate after getting stuck. In 2015, Vice published an article titled “A Brief History of People Getting Stuck in Chimneys and Dying,” which informed readers that “chimneys are death traps [and] have been for hundreds of years.”

2. Everything burns: Water slide catches fire at Jersey park with infamous past 


What’s the least likely thing that could burn? A water slide, maybe?

Guess again.

In June, a couple of days before Mountain Creek Water Park was set to open for the season in Vernon, New Jersey, a massive fire broke out on a water slide named High Anxiety. Photos posted on Facebook by the local fire department show large orange flames and thick black smoke leaping out of the tube-shaped slide.

“We are grateful to the Vernon and other local responding volunteer fire and EMS departments, as well as the Vernon Police, who responded within minutes to help extinguish the fire,” a spokesman for the park said, according to “While we are certainly disappointed that we won’t have High Anxiety available for the foreseeable future, we know that our resilient team is ready to welcome guests back this weekend for our season opening.” It’s unclear what caused the blaze.

Tri-state residents of a certain age may recognize Vernon as the site of Action Park, which operated in the 1980s and 1990s at the same location as Mountain Creek Water Park. The legendary water and amusement park was known for slides and other rides designed with apparently little to no engineering input. The vast number of injuries sustained at the park—in addition to a few deaths—earned it the nickname “Class Action Park” before it was shuttered in 1996.

Watch the trailer for a recent HBO documentary film on Action Park. 

3. Dolls of Deception: Discarded sex doll spurs rescue efforts 

In June, passersby looked on in horror as a naked woman lay floating face down in the water off the coast of Hachinohe, Japan.

First responders rushed to the scene and prepared to rescue the victim. But the woman they pulled out of the water wasn’t a woman at all—she turned out to be a sex doll.

Tanaka Natsuki, a popular Japanese YouTuber, was watching as the incident unfolded. “It seems someone misunderstood what it was and called the authorities, so a ton of police, fire trucks, and ambulances showed up. Thankfully the ‘wife’ was safely rescued. Nice,” she tweeted.

According to Newsweek, there have been several instances of such dolls being mistaken for bodies over the years.

In July 2020, police in Allenhurst, Georgia, responded to reports of a dead body on train tracks; the body turned out to be a sex doll. In a testament to how life-like these synthetic creations can be, the officers who responded to the Georgia incident reportedly even covered the doll with a sheet before a coroner arrived on scene and determined it wasn’t an actual person.

4. Suds Save: Quick-thinkers stamp out wildfire with beer


Who needs firebreaks or air tankers when you have beer?

In June, two Arizona teenagers and another man were credited with extinguishing a wildfire before it could grow out of control. Their suppression agent? A 24-pack of beer.

According to local news reports, the teens were driving to work early in the morning when they saw a budding wildfire on the side of the road. They stopped, got out of their car, and started kicking dirt onto the smoldering brush and cacti. Another man driving by stopped to help—and he happened to be transporting over 250 ounces of brew, which he apparently then transferred into a water-carrying backpack for use as a firefighting tool.

“We were just kicking dirt into trees, kicking dirt onto cactuses, and this man just came out [with] a CamelBak® full of beer,” one of the teenagers told 12 News in Phoenix.

It’s not the first time beer has been used to put out a fire. In September 2019, in an incident described in the November/December 2019 “Oddities” section of NFPA Journal, a German man put out a fire in his car’s engine using beer. “Bottoms up, fire’s out,” the Associated Press reported after the incident.

ANGELO VERZONI is an associate editor for NFPA Journal. Follow him on Twitter @angelo_verzoni. Top photograph: Getty Images