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Cremation turns into uncontrolled fire at funeral home

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Posted at 12:55 AM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 08:58:35-04

CINCINNATI -- A "freak accident" started an unscheduled fire Wednesday night at the Hillside Chapel Crematory at in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to crematorium owner Don Catchen.

"My operator was in the process of cremating remains and (the body) was overly obese and apparently it got a little hotter than the unit is supposed to get," Catchen said. "One of the cremation containers that we had close got caught on fire and that's what burnt."

Cincinnati Fire Chief Michael Washington said the fire started with a business-as-usual cremation.

When fat in the body burned at a higher temperature than usual, the too-hot flames spread to nearby containers and parts of the surrounding room, he said.

"We believe there were some combustible storage boxes that were too close to the ovens," Washington said.

The fire began at about 9:40 p.m. Eastern. It took first responders about two hours to douse the flames.

Catchen said his business in Cincinnati is "fine" and there was no serious damage.

"The containers that we use -- that we have to place the remains in to cremate them -- that's the only thing that's burnt," he said.

Fortunately, crematoriums are highly fireproof; no other bodies or parts of the building were damaged by the fire, Catchen said.