Author(s): Angelo Verzoni. Published on January 11, 2022.

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

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 Winter issue below, and click here to read our roundup from the Fall issue.


1. Lost and Found: Turkish man joins search party for himself  


Some people spend years trying to find themselves. It took Beyhan Mutlu one drunken night in the woods to do just that.

According to BBC News, the Turkish man had been drinking with friends one evening in September when he wandered into the forest. After he failed to return, his friends phoned the local authorities, who sent out a search party. Mutlu then stumbled upon that search party in the woods and decided to join them, unaware he was the one they were looking for. When members of the search party started calling out his name, he replied, “I am here.”

Police officers took a statement from Mutlu before driving him home. “Don’t punish me too harshly,” the 50-year-old man reportedly told the authorities. “My father will kill me.”

2. Hang in There: Woman dangling from cliff not what she seems 


The situation looked dire: A woman clinging to the side of a cliff near a beach in Santa Barbara, California, no harness or other climbing gear in sight. Worried beachgoers phoned 911 and a full-scale rescue operation was launched. Firefighters from multiple agencies responded with four-wheelers, fire engines, and a drone.

But when a thermal imaging camera showed no heat radiating from the woman in distress, responders realized something was amiss.

Turns out the woman was actually a mannequin, according to local news reports—a prop that had been left there after a movie shoot that took place a few days earlier. Still, a spokesperson for the Santa Barbara Fire Department said on Twitter, it’s always “better to call [911] than not.”

If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu, that’s because the Spring 2021 NFPA Journal “Oddities” section reported on a similar incident. In June, concerned onlookers in Japan phoned emergency responders after seeing what they believed to be a woman floating face-down in a harbor. As in the Santa Barbara incident, the victim turned out to be a mannequin.

3. Hot Housing Market: Mass. home listed for sale with one minor fault


The median existing-home price in the United States hit an all-time high in June, rising to just over $360,000, according to the National Association of Realtors. That amount of money won’t get you very far in some corners of the country, though, and no better example of that exists than a Melrose, Massachusetts, listing that made headlines in September.

The 1,800-square-foot single-family home was put on the market for $399,000—a pretty good deal when you consider a typical home in Massachusetts sells for about $550,000. The catch? The property was nearly destroyed by a fire in August. Photos show the front of the home charred to a crisp, with boarded-up windows and doors.

“Along with the burned-up exterior and boarded-up windows that were blown out during the fire, The Boston Globe reports firefighters also had to rip out walls and ceilings,” according to a CBS Boston segment. “The listing says it’s being sold as is.”

4. Safe and Snug: Trees get cozy for the season


Everyone likes to wrap themselves in a cozy blanket as autumn arrives. It seems that even the giant sequoia trees in California got the memo.

In September, as wildfires crept closer to Sequoia National Park, firefighters took an unusual step to protect the cherished trees: wrapping them in fireproof blankets. The blankets, which look like giant, shiny sheets of tinfoil, were applied to what fire officials told reporters were “high-priority trees,” including General Sherman, the world’s largest tree by volume, which measures a whopping 36 feet in diameter.

“The fire blankets have been used for a long time to protect structures,” said Christy Brigham, chief of resources management and science at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, according to NPR. “We basically told the fire crews to treat all our special sequoias like they were buildings and wrap them all up, and to rake all the litter away and roll away the heavy logs.”

ANGELO VERZONI is associate editor of NFPA Journal. Follow him on Twitter @angelo_verzoni. All photographs: Getty Images