Biden embellishes retold 2004 kitchen fire story: ‘We almost lost a couple firefighters’

It’s uncanny how often President Biden references the fabled kitchen fire at his Delaware home in 2004, and while it’s customary for politicians to embellish the truth for personal gain, this story seems to evolve with each telling.

In a retelling this week, the 79-year-old president went so far as to say that a couple of firefighters were “almost lost” during what was reported at the time to be a “small fire.”

Biden was speaking Tuesday at the White House Summit on Fire Prevention and Control and he was complimentary of firefighters for saving his two sons after the 1972 car crash that killed his first wife and their daughter, saying they had to use the “Jaws of Life” to get them out, and for rushing him to the hospital “in the middle of a snowstorm” in 1988 when he was suffering from two aneurysms.

“In addition to that, what happened was — I was — I was doing ‘Meet the Press,’ and lightning struck a little pond behind my house, came up through the ground into the air conditioning system,” he said. “Ended up generating this thick, black smoke literally — literally that — of those proportions. And from the basement to the third floor, the attic, everything was ruined.”

“And the kitchen floor — we almost lost a couple firefighters, they tell me, because the kitchen floor was — the burning between beams in the house, in addition to almost collapsed into the basement,” Biden added.

The Associated Press reported in 2004 that lighting “struck the home of Sen. Joseph Biden, starting a small fire that was contained to the kitchen,” adding that “no one was injured” in the blaze.

The news agency said firefighters arrived “to find heavy smoke coming from the house, but were able to keep the flames from spreading beyond the kitchen.”

Cranston Heights Fire Company Chief George Lamborn was also quoted as saying: “Luckily, we got it pretty early. The fire was under control in 20 minutes.”

Here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:

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