Friday, November 27, 2009

Flaming squirrels in the news

When I stumbled across the story of the flaming squirrel in Bayonne, NJ, I didn't realize there were more stories out there...

Flaming squirrel burns trailers & causes evacuation of school in Oklahoma  1/21/09
Jones, Oklahoma  "A squirrel caught fire, sparking a blaze Wednesday morning that resulted in the evacuation of an elementary school in Jones, fire officials said.  Investigators said the squirrel touched two power lines at the same time and fell to the ground....  That fire burned 5 acres in the Jones area.... Several trailers burned in the fire. However, no people were injured."

Flaming squirrel blamed for sparking California grassfire  10/14/08
"Redding firefighters say the squirrel set off the blaze when it shorted out a power line, caught fire and dropped into dry vegetation.  Battalion Chief Gerry Gray says it took 18 firefighters and six fire engines to fight the fire that started behind a Redding restaurant."

Story of flaming squirrel on "This American Life
A rookie policeman, on one of his first calls, was asked to find an animal hiding in an attic.  All the rookie was trying to do was impress a beautiful woman in distress.  The intruder turned out to be a squirrel, and after a series of mishaps, the squirrel ran into the fireplace, then back out into the room and under the sofa.  The sofa promptly burst into flames.  The result--one crispy squirrel, along with thousands of dollars in damage.

Squirrels often short out transformers  Victoria Advocate 1/15/87
Abilene, Texas  "A squirrel single-handedly shorted out power to downtown.... In Abilene & San Angelo, squirrels are the leading cause of power outages, although snakes and occasionally birds also cause blackouts, McNair said.  The squirrel typically spans two conductors to cause the outage....  'It will fry the squirrel, maybe causing an arc--a short that can knock out a transformer,' he said.  'It's hard to protect against those little squirrels.'"

What's really behind flaming squirrels
  • Some blame whatever is attracting squirrels, as I did in my last post
  • "Varmints don't really understand the workings of electricity yet. I blame the slowness of evolution...."  James Ivers
  • Some think it's just another way of getting insurance money for an old car
  • It could be just an urban legend, so you can't believe everything you hear
It's an old story...

In the Bible, Sampson was the first to take advantage of flaming tails.  He captured three hundred foxes, set their tails afire, then released them into the crops of the Philistines, "and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives." Judges 15:4-5.

The Tale of the Flaming Bunny Rabbit, a wildfire fighter chases a flaming rabbit that's spreading fire through the woods.  True or not, I don't know.  But flaming animals are the stuff urban legends are made of.

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