FACT CHECK: JOE BIDEN EMBELLISHES FIRE STORY IN RECENT REMARKS IN HAWAII
by Elias Atienza, CheckYourFact.com, 08/28/2023
President Joe Biden claimed that he almost lost his wife, car and cat in a 2004 fire during Aug. 21 remarks while in Hawaii.
The fire was insignificant, contained to the kitchen and under control within 20 minutes, according to the local fire department and reporting at the time.
Biden visited Hawaii in the aftermath of fires that have killed at least 100 people and left hundreds missing, according to The Washington Post. During his visit, he told a crowd a story about a fire at his home in 2004, Insider reported.
Biden said in the remarks that he had a “little sense” of what it’s like to lose a home” and that he almost lost his wife and car in the fire. Biden said, according to the transcript:
“I don’t want to compare difficulties, but we have a little sense, Jill and I, what it’s like to lose a home. Years ago — now 15 years ago — I was in Washington doing ‘Meet the Press.’ It was a sunny Sunday, and lightning struck at home on a little lake that’s outside of our home — not a lake, a big pond — and hit a wire and came up underneath our home into the heating ducts — the air conditioning ducts. To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ‘67 Corvette, and my cat. But all kidding aside, I watched the firefighters, the way they responded.”
This story, while containing an element of truth, embellishes what actually occurred. The fire, which was caused by lightning, was contained to the kitchen and was under control within 20 minutes, according to a 2004 Associated Press report. The New York Times reported in October 2022 that “news reports at the time called it little more than ‘a small fire that was contained to the kitchen.'”
“Luckily, we got it pretty early. The fire was under control in 20 minutes,” Cranston Heights Fire Company Chief George Lamborn said to the AP at the time.
The Cranston Heights Fire Company said in October 2022 that the fire was “insignificant” for them, according to the New York Post.
“For the fire service, this could be considered an insignificant fire as it did not lead to multiple alarms and did not need a widespread incident response throughout the county. However, in the case for any homeowner, it was obviously significant at the time and was quickly responded to by the local firefighters,” the department said, per the Post. They also said that “the fire was contained in 20 minutes and avoided significant extension into the rest of the home. However, it still caused damage to the home.”
This is not the first time Biden has told this story. He told it in October 2022 in front of Floridians who were victims of Hurricane Ian, according to The New York Times. He has also told the story in 2021, Fox News reported.
The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment.