Biden says his Delaware home ‘almost collapsed’ due to small kitchen fire nearly 20 years ago while discussing Maui wildfire crisis

WASHINGTON – President Biden said Wednesday, while discussing the devastation of the wildfires on Maui, that his Delaware home “nearly collapsed” in a small kitchen fire nearly two decades ago, after telling survivors last week that firefighters “ran into the flames” to rescue first lady Jill Biden.

The 80-year-old president invoked the 2004 small fire at his Wilmington residence, saying residents of the Hawaiian island will not be allowed to enter the damaged area until the potentially toxic debris is removed.

“If anyone on Maui is listening, they lost everything… and we are doing everything we can to move heaven and earth to help… We have already dedicated $24 million to removing hazardous materials left behind after the fire… We have “We have to eliminate contaminated and dangerous things,” Biden said in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

“It’s going to be very frustrating for people, who will say: ‘Why can’t I go back? The storm has passed, why can’t I go back and see if I can find that wedding ring or that album?’” Biden continued, appearing to conflate the August 8 wildfire with Hurricane Idalia.

“It’s really, really difficult,” Biden added. “I haven’t done any of that, but… lightning hit my house, we had to be out of that house for about seven months while it was being repaired because the house had suffered so much damage that half the house almost collapsed. .”

President Biden said Wednesday, while discussing the devastation of the Maui wildfires, that his Delaware home “almost collapsed” due to a small kitchen fire nearly two decades ago.

Biden referenced the Delaware fire on August 21 when he spoke in Lahaina to residents whose homes had burned to the ground, stating that firefighters “ran into the flames to save my wife and save my family. It is not a joke.”

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“I don’t want to compare hardships, but Jill and I have a little idea of ​​what it’s like to lose a home,” the president continued.

“Years ago, 15 years ago, I was in Washington doing ‘Meet the Press.’ It was a sunny Sunday and lightning struck at home in a small lake that is outside our house, not in a lake, but in a large pond. And it hit a wire and went up under our house into the heating and air conditioning ducts. And long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat.”

However, at the time, local fire chief George Lamborn told the Associated Press: “Luckily, we made it quite early. The fire was under control in 20 minutes.

The AP reported that the conflagration was a “small fire that was contained in the kitchen” and that now first lady Jill Biden reported it to emergency services. The news service did not report that she was trapped inside the home and no injuries were reported.

Joe Biden's mansion in DelawareLocal fire chief George Lamborn told the Associated Press: “Fortunately, we got it sorted pretty early. The fire was under control in 20 minutes.

The president has told various versions of the story over time.

At a fire prevention summit in October, he claimed that we “nearly lost a couple of firefighters” during the fire.

At an event focused on infrastructure in 2021, he said that “they burned down a house with my wife inside.”

In a delicately worded statement last year, Delaware’s Cranston Heights Fire Company said: “To the fire service, this could be considered a negligible fire as it did not cause multiple alarms and did not require widespread incident response throughout the county. However, in the case of any homeowner, it was obviously significant at the time and local firefighters responded quickly.”

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Biden has a habit of telling objectively questionable stories when trying to engage with his audience.

He said last year in Puerto Rico that “I was raised in the Puerto Rican community at home, politically,” even though only 2,000 Puerto Ricans lived in Delaware when he was launching his career in the early 1970s and his books contain no information. about interaction with the small community.

Vehicles and buildings destroyed following a wildfire last week on Wednesday, August 16, 2023 in Lahaina, Hawaii.  Biden cited the fire at his Wilmington residence and said residents of the Hawaiian island will not be allowed to enter the damaged area until potentially toxic debris is removed. New York Post

Biden also told students at historically black colleges in Atlanta last year that he was arrested multiple times while protesting for civil rights, another claim for which there is no evidence.

In 2021, the president told Jewish leaders he remembered “spending time” and “going to” Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, after 11 people were killed in the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. . The synagogue said it never visited, and the White House later said it was considering a 2019 phone call to the synagogue’s rabbi.

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Later that month, Biden told an Idaho audience that his “first job offer” came from local lumber and wood products company Boise Cascade, a claim company officials said was new to them.

Biden said at the Naval Academy graduation ceremony last May, and again at the Air Force Academy in June, that the late Sen. J. Caleb Boggs (R-Del.) appointed him to the prestigious military school of Annapolis. A search of the Boggs files failed to find evidence of the appointment.

Public perception of Biden’s mental fitness for office is a drag on the Democrat heading into next year’s election.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released in June found that only 32% of voters believe Biden has the mental acuity needed to be president, while 54% said the same of Donald Trump, 77, the former president and favorite for the Republican elections. nomination.

Biden also has a career-long propensity for embellishing personal details. His first presidential campaign ended infamously in 1987 due to a scandal over the plagiarism of speeches and a law school paper.

The then-senator from Delaware borrowed family history from British politician Neil Kinnock, and Biden changed geographic details to claim in his speeches that “my ancestors… worked in the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania and would return after 12 hours.” and they played soccer for four hours. .”

Unlike Kinnock, Biden’s ancestors did not mine coal.

Biden also falsely claimed during that campaign that he “graduated with three degrees,” was named “Outstanding Student in the Political Science Department,” “went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only one in my class that he had a full academic scholarship” and “finished in the top half” of his class.

None of those claims was true.

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