Firefighter says MRE caused house fire

By Charles Herrington -  Bio | Email

MCLAURIN, MS (WDAM) - A Forrest County firefighter is warning homeowners about the dangers of military meals ready-to-eat, or MREs. Tom Hobson says he nearly lost his home to fire Tuesday night, because of an MRE.

Hobson had several cases of MREs stored in a closet in his home. He had stocked up on them after Hurricane Katrina.

Over the years, his children had cut them open to take out candy.  Hobson thinks it was the slashing of the interior flameless ration heaters combined with water from a nearby leaking air conditioner that that led to the fire.

"The drain stopped-up," said Hobson. "It put water on the floor. The water came underneath the wall, onto the carpet, and made it's way over to the MRE heaters and set them ablaze."

Hobson added, "When you add water to the engine (heaters), it produces heat and hydrogen gas and everybody knows hydrogen is flammable and it intensifies the fire."

Hobson managed to contain the fire to one room, saving his home.

He said Wednesday, an official with the Mississippi Fire Marshal's Office gave him a copy of a federal safety alert from 2004, detailing the fire hazards associated with storing MREs. Now he's warning other residents who might also have the meals to examine them for damage.

"If you've been storing these MREs, check them," Hobson said. "I had no idea that I had a closet full of fire, waiting. And there might be somebody out there that has them in their closet, that could possibly start another fire."

Hobson believes stored MREs may also have been responsible for another fire at a nearby relative's home just a few weeks ago.

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