So, I figured I had better blog about our Canada Day weekend fire, since that is kind of a major event in a person’s life (hopefully once in a lifetime!). Here’s what happened:
Saturday of the long weekend we were hanging out at home. I’d been out in the garden in the morning and had a community member in for a conversation. Around 1:00 I started the dishwasher and put some quinoa and beans on the stove and went into the office. A little while later the smoke detector went off.
This is not the first time that has happened… I go into my office and lose track of time, and the item on the stove boils dry. I assumed that’s what had happened and raced out into the kitchen and grabbed the stuff off the stove. I quickly realized that the whole ceiling was covered in thick black smoke that was not coming from the stove. I followed the trail of smoke and saw flames shooting out from the bottom of the dishwasher.
I gasped, yelled “FIRE”, grabbed the phone and headed out to the driveway. My elderly mom and dad, who live next door, had just arrived home from camping and my mom happened to be in their driveway. Confusion ensued while I tried to talk to the 911 operator while my mom (who’s a little confused these days anyway) yelled questions at me and my husband ran in and out of the house yelling various things. A little chaotic, to say the least.
We knew it was an electrical fire so water would not work. I suggested Theo run to the fire hall (around the corner from our house) and see if they could give him an extinguisher (why I thought they’d be there 30 seconds after our 911 call I can’t say). He booked it over there and of course, no one was there yet. He then raced to a neighbour of ours who has one (or more) of everything. He wasn’t home. While he was gone I had irrationally gone back into the fire to see what was happening (I discourage this!). The fire was growing, the house was now full of smoke. Theo came back and went back into the fire, too (again, kids, don’t do this at home. Or anywhere).
Then he remembered my dad has a fire extinguisher in the shop in his back yard. He raced over there, grabbed it, went back into the fire for the third time and put it out.
The fire by this time was up to the top cabinets. Since Theo is a former fire fighter, he knew to shoot at the source of fire and not spray the flames (like I probably would have done). This saved much of our kitchen. In fact, at a surface glance, it doesn’t really look that bad. But the cabinets and countertop are burnt and the smoke damage is extensive. It was burning plastic and that smell and the cyanide it gives off is really gross.
The Penhold Fire Dept arrived, along with the County FD and the ambulance. The County stood watch while the PFD did their stuff. They were organized, professional and thorough. Even in my emotional state, I was proud of our little local crew.
Theo was checked out by the ambulance (another small town plus: my pal Roger Tewson aka @Rogie_the_Medic was on the crew!) and released. Apparently I had told someone my chest hurt so they decided I should get looked at too. I was pretty surprised when they said I should go in to hosp… but when I got away from the smoldering house and got seated in the ambulance, I had to admit it was true – I was not in the best shape.
It’s weird how the mind works. As I lay in the hospital sucking in oxygen and waiting for test results, I kept focusing on the garden dirt on my feet. Do you think ambulance attendants and nurses really care about that? I don’t know, and I suppose it’s a coping mechanism (better than wondering what was happening back at home) but in retrospect, it’s a bit bizarre. Dirt on my feet should have been the last thing on my mind.
At any rate, we are now in the throes of working with the adjuster and the restoration company, getting quotes on renos and listing burnt items (WHY do I have thirteen of the same kind of serving spoon??) and hoping like crazy everything will be completed prior to my daughter’s wedding (to be held in my back yard) Sept 8th. Thankful we were home, I’ve now made a commitment to NEVER leave the house with an appliance running (except the fridge of course). Second lesson: we now have a fire extinguisher in the pantry and in the furnace room. They’re $30 at Peavey Mart, folks – get yours today.
And that’s the story. Much as I did not enjoy the experience, I can say that gratitude was the main emotion that washed over me in waves for the initial days following the fire. There is so very much to be thankful for in all of this. When I am counting burnt pickle forks and tupperware lids for insurance purposes, I remind myself of that fact.
Please, everyone, don’t leave your house with an appliance cycling, and get a fire extinguisher. And hug someone who lives in your house. And your house.