In which my idiocy endangers my family, but then saves the day

Not an actual picture of my house fire.I was planning on posting some fiction tonight, but instead my evening got derailed by a harrowing experience, in which I nearly burned my house down. My coping mechanism, naturally, is blogging about it.

In an attempt to make onion rings, a grease fire began on the stove. Proper procedure for a grease fire is to cover it up and smother it. I know that now because the fire department told me so. My reaction was to pick up the fire extinguisher and give the stove a blast of flame-retardant fluid. This is also an acceptable procedure, provided that you follow the instructions on the fire extinguisher, namely the part about standing six feet away from the fire.

I have never felt so horrified and betrayed as when the fire extinguisher, rather then extinguishing the fire, blasted the flames across my kitchen. Here I was, acting all calm and in control, and the very thing that I had in my house to save lives wound up functioning as a flamethrower instead. In retrospect, even this would have been fine had I continued spraying the extinguisher and killed the flames. But a fire extinguisher enhancing a fire rather than putting it out is incredibly demoralizing, and I dropped the damned thing as flames shot across my kitchen.

Giving up the house as lost, I moved onto the most important step: getting my family to safety. Sarah and my son got out of the house just fine. The only trauma to our son was that he started crying when Daddy jumped up from playing with him, leaving him with no entertainment as the old man started shouting about 911 or some such gibberish. But we made it up to him by bringing him to a neighbor’s house where he got to play with some new toys.

I learned that multitasking is not the thing to do in a fire. Rushing back into the house, I dialed 911 while grabbing the burning pan and trying to throw it out the back door into the snow. The conversations with 911 went roughly like this:

“911, what is your emergency?”

“I’m at {address redacted} and my kitchen is one fire!”

“Excuse me sir, I didn’t get that.”

(While the flames shoot up from the pan and lick across the back of my hand) “AAAH! My kitchen is one fire!!!”

Silence on the other end. Checking my cell phone, it said the call ended.

So great. In one night, my fire extinguisher had spread blazing death across a room and 911 had hung up on me. Oh yeah…and when I burned my hand, I dropped the pan, sending flaming grease across a hardwood floor.

Luckily, my stupidity saved the day, canceling out the fact that it had made a simple grease fire much worse. By spilling the grease across the floor, I wound up actually putting out most of the fire. One of the firefighters that showed up later told me I had done the right thing, and that by moving the burning pan off the stove, I kept the fire from spreading across the counter top, up the walls, and through the rest of the house.

I highly suspect that firefighters are trained to tell people that they did the right thing no matter what stupidity they pulled, probably to ease the trauma of seeing your house catch fire. A second, more straightforward, fireman asked, “Weren’t you in the kitchen while you were cooking?” in an incredulous voice as though I had been in another room goofing off while highly flammable fluid was sitting on my oven’s range – which I admittedly was, but only because Sarah was in the kitchen and witnessing the smoke turn to fire. I explained as calmly as possible to the firefighter that this was not a case of negligence, but rather an instance where the fire turned out to the be the Incredible Hulk – fighting it only made it stronger.

Upon leaving the scene to the capable professionals, I was met by a third firefighter. He also told me, “You did the right thing.”

So two out of three firefighters agree: I saved my house from burning down. That I also almost caused it to burn down in the first place by misusing the fire extinguisher shall remain irrelevant.

(On a side note, I also rescued my cat by chasing her down and tossing her into my idling car. She was remarkably calm about the whole affair. The process of taking her from the house to the car left me unable to feel my feet, as I had just run through a bunch of snow without shoes or socks on. The experience made me feel like John McClane. Then again, doing anything dangerous while in bare feet makes me feel like John McClane.)

(On another side note, anybody have $500 to replace a damaged electric oven? I guess I could cover the cost by putting ads up on this site, but who wants to see ads when instead you can witness the site owner panhandling like a pyromaniac hobo?)

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One Response to “In which my idiocy endangers my family, but then saves the day”

  1. I’d give you the money, but I get the feeling you’d “burn” through it.

    See what I did there? Yeah, you saw what I did.

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