Santa Operates Aerial at CT Chimney Fire

A firefighter dressed as Santa responded from a Christmas parade to a fire in a historic inn and restaurant.

The Hartford Courant
A firefighter dressed as Santa operates an aerial ladder during the fire at the 1820 House in Simsbury.
A firefighter dressed as Santa operates an aerial ladder during the fire at the 1820 House in Simsbury.
Eric Wellman/First Selectman, Simsbury

Simsbury volunteer firefighters operating a ladder truck decorated with Christmas lights and carrying Santa Claus in the annual Simsbury Celebrates firetruck parade sprung into action Saturday night to battle a chimney and roof fire at the 1820 House on Hopmeadow Street, along the parade route. And Santa operated the truck’s ladder.

People attending the parade shared videos and photos on social media of the fire and the ladder truck responding.

The parade is a popular part of the annual event in Simsbury. Firefighters from throughout the region decorate their trucks with Christmas lights and firefighters typically walk along handing out candy to children. The Simsbury ladder truck was the last truck in the parade.

The fire was caused by built up creosote in the chimney and spread to the roof of the restaurant and inn, located at at 731 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury Fire Marhsal Kevin Kowalski said.

People watching the parade alerted firefighters aboard the ladder truck to the fire, and firefighters called their headquarters, Kowalski said. There were standby crews and trucks available to respond to calls during the parade and they responded along with the crew aboard the ladder truck carrying Santa.

They pulled into the 1820 House driveway, extended the ladder to the roof and went to work, Kowalski said. Some firefighters used fire extinguishers to fight the fire while others worked to get people out of the building.

“They jettisoned all the Christmas ornaments and operated the ladder,” Kowalski said of the crew on the ladder truck.

Pumpers soon arrived to put water on the fire. Firefighters from Canton used their ladder truck to battle the fire from the other side of the building, Kowalski said.

Santa Claus, who’d been riding in a sleigh mounted to the ladder truck, operated the Simsbury ladder, Kowalski said.

The fire was contained to the chimney and a section of the roof.

“We had to do a pretty rigorous inspection of all the interior spaces around the chimney going up from the first floor,” Kowalski said. The fire did not extend beyond the chimney and all guests were able to return to their rooms, he said.

David Owens can be reached at


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