Crystal Ball Starts Fire at Okla. Home
The Associated Press
Thursday, January 29, 2004; 6:24 PM
SHAWNEE, Okla. - Firefighters in this central Oklahoma town peered into a crystal ball and found the cause for a fire.
It didn't take long for Shawnee Fire Prevention Officer Jimmy Gibson to figure out what caught a homeowner's sofa on fire and brought fire crews to the rescue.
Once the couch was extinguished, Gibson reached into a hole burnt into the sofa and found a glass gazing ball. Soon, sunlight shining through the ball burned two holes in the leg of his pants.
Firefighters then placed the ball in the grass, and within 30 seconds the ground was smoking.
"It has dynamic heat. We were caught off guard," Gibson said. "I couldn't believe how quickly it burned."
Firefighters believe the ball was taken off a table, where it was usually displayed, and placed on the couch by the homeowner's grandchildren. The fire started two days later, when sunshine came through a large set of windows and through the glass ball, igniting the couch.
"It's not something you run across every day," Gibson said. "I'd never seen it."
The fire set off a smoke detector, and the homeowner quickly called the fire department. No one was injured in the fire, which was confined to the sofa.
Gibson said he plans to keep the ball, which the homeowner gave him after the fire a couple weeks ago, on his bookshelf as a conversation piece.
He said the ball worked like a magnifying glass in sunlight, directing light into a heat beam.
Even if the ball was placed on a flat, nonflammable surface, the heat from sunlight could ignite a blaze on a rug or other items, Gibson said, so homeowners should be careful where they place such items.
© 2004 The Associated Press