Placentia : Burning Paper Causes Heavy Damage to House

A Christmas celebration for a Placentia family ended sadly Thursday when gift wrappings they were burning in the fireplace erupted into large flames that reached the ceiling of their two-story house in the 600 block ofNenno Drive.

Dispatcher Joanie Mattes of the Orange County Fire Department said it took 40 firefighters about 30 minutes to contain the blaze, which broke out at 11:30 a.m.

Mattes said Kenneth Bemis, 55, his wife and two adult children had just finished unwrapping Christmas gifts. They placed the wrappings in the fireplace and they quickly ignited. Mattes said the blaze reached the top of the chimney.

"It took off pretty fast, but they were able to get a lot of their furniture out," Mattes said.

She said Bemis and the other members of his family, who were not identified, were taken in by friends.

Mattes said the fire caused $100,000 in damage, $80,000 to the structure and $20,000 to the contents.

"This is a good example of why wrappings should not be burned in fireplaces," Mattes said.

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