Girls, locked out, find Santa's route doesn't work


SAN MATEO, Calif. -- She lay trapped inside a dark and dusty chimney with her friend for nearly an hour. Firefighters found the only way to free them was to demolish the chimney.

But when all was said and done, Bonnie Earle, 10, had one question: If two little girls couldn't make it from the top of the chimney to the living room fireplace, how could Santa Claus?

Firefighters and family members said it was that kind of reasoning that led Bonnie and Nicole Jones, 6, to the chimney Tuesday afternoon after Bonnie lost the keys to her grandparents' San Mateo home.

"What goes through the mind of a 10-year-old? I guess she thought she could get through," said Bonnie's grandfather, Bruce Earle.

The pair decided that Nicole would go down the chimney first, then open the front door for Bonnie, fire officials said. But as Nicole wig

gled down, she lost her grip and got stuck just above the fireplace with one dangling foot visible from the living room.

Bonnie went down into the chimney after her, but she also got stuck.

A third youngster who watched the two girls alerted a neighbor.

still don't understand why they did it," said Nicole's mother, Evette Jones. "I guess they just loved Santa Claus and Mary Poppins."

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