Santa Claus the firefighter helps crews contain blaze at Living Planet Aquarium

Posted at 1:16 PM, Dec 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-13 23:46:19-05

DRAPER, Utah -- As it turns out, Santa Claus doesn’t just drive a sleigh and deliver presents to children—he also knows how to fight fires.

Santa himself and Mrs. Claus jumped into action after a second-alarm fire broke out at the Living Planet Aquarium around 12:45 Sunday afternoon.

The duo say they’d just finished listening to the Christmas wishes of a line of children.

Santa said it seemed, “like we had a little bit of a problem, and they asked everybody to evacuate.”

That little problem was a blaze that broke out above the second floor. Unified Fire Authority said the roof membrane had caught fire.

Sundays are busy, the aquarium told Fox 13, and the building was filled with around 450 visiting guests and 50 employees.

St. Nick and Mrs. Claus first got everyone to quickly evacuate.

“We just helped walk everybody down and clear the upper floor with all the employees, and getting everybody out and safe,” said Mrs. Claus, who also goes by the name Judy Buckley.

Then, Santa—who serves as chief of fire marshals on the side—began to help fire crews who responded to the scene.

“They did call him to help out and give them directions on where to go, and how to find things in the aquarium,” Mrs. Claus said.

Santa, who told FOX 13 he runs the North Pole Fire Department, said he helped firefighters figure out building plans as they worked to fight the fire and find the location of things they were looking for.

Unified Fire cut through the roof with a chainsaw. It wasn’t long before they had the fire extinguished.

Meanwhile, Suzy Broadbent with Living Planet Aquarium said they were able to leave power on to the building, and keep all the animals safe.

She’s grateful for Santa’s double duty.

“That’s always nice to have Santa as a fire marshal,” she said, with a laugh. “It comes in handy.”

As far as the cause of the fire, Unified Fire said they’re still investigating.

But Mr. Claus knows one thing can be ruled out.

“Of course, I got asked if our reindeer might have caused the problem,” he said. But, he added that he left his reindeer behind at the North Pole, so they weren’t on the roof.

Broadbent said the museum would close for the rest of the day, but they planned to open as normal on Monday.