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Sunday, May 1, 2016

'I was hungry, and the blowtorch was just sitting there'

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A friend of mine posted this news story from my hometown newspaper:

"After torched squirrel ignites Holland Township fire, authorities recall other weird fire causes."

Okay, there are several ways to break down this story, from the headline alone.

I'm going to start with, "torched squirrel ignites Holland Township fire."

My first thought was, "some poor squirrel found himself on fire and ran into a home in a moment of utter panic."


The story begins, "A Holland Township man who used a propane torch Wednesday, Oct. 10, to remove a squirrel's fur ignited a fire that destroyed eight apartments ..."

Now, this poor squirrel has changed from an overwhelmed rodent into a victim of hate crime, for no reason whatsoever.

Wrong again. Further down the page, I read, "The Holland Township man, whose name wasn't released, was preparing lunch ..."

Now this squirrel, bless its little acorn-munching heart, was just a victim of run-of-the-mill stupidity.

I've never gone hunting myself, but I'm still pretty sure the best way to clean a kill does not involve a propane blowtorch. Also, I can't say I've ever met anyone in the town who has actually considered shooting a squirrel for anything more than adolescent, .22 target practice.

At least he had the mind to light the critter up outside. On his deck. With nothing but third-floor kindling to surround him.

But, that damage is done. The second half of the headline is almost as astounding as the first.

"... authorities recall other weird fire causes."

I kid you not:

- "One man tried to kill cockroaches with gasoline ... 'he lit a cigarette.'"

- "A Jamestown Township house was destroyed when the homeowner put a flare in a mole hole that went under an enclosed deck. It sparked, and the ground caught on fire. The fire spread to the house, which eventually was engulfed in flames."

- "... a laboratory worker who brought alcohol home. He poured it in a bowl and lit it to heat the garage. The burning alcohol did not emit a visible flame. The man thought it was out when the burning alcohol spilled, causing serious injuries as well as damage to the house."

As we get further into the colder weather and, subsequently, hunting season, let's remember to use a little common sense. Your house will thank you.

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Kate Padilla