Where there’s smoke…

Do you ever have this experience.  You see the potential danger in a situation, register it, do what you can to eliminate that danger, then end up succumbing to it anyway?  Would it have happened if you hadn’t recognized its potential? For example, for about a year in my early twenties I seemed to be very susceptible to falling.  I’d trip and fall at least… once every couple weeks.  I’ll admit, sometimes alcohol was involved.  But other times perfectly sober walking down the street and BAM on my ass on the ground.  One night I was running from a cab to the door in the middle of the winter when the Boy shouts out “It’s icy there, be careful you’re going to fall.” I thought to myself, “He’s right I am going to fall, I should be careful,” slowed down and carefully started watching where I was stepping trying to avoid the ice.  BAM on my ass and twisted my knee.  I recognized the danger and still it found me.  Had I kept running I probably would have made it to the door without injury.

I had a very similar experience this morning, but with less falling and more fire.

The Boy wanted me to make him pasta salad to eat post-work, pre-volleyball, so he could put off eating dinner until he gets home post-volleyball.  No problem.  I may have gotten too wrapped up in my knitting last night and forgot to make it.  No problem, I’ll make it in the morning. I got up, I had a shower.  I came out of the bathroom to put on a pot of water so it would boil while I was getting dressed – timing is everything in the morning.  I stop.  I recognize the danger.  My plastic electric kettle is sitting on the stove.  HAZARD! I wrap the cord around the kettle and put it on the back burner, careful to ensure that nothing plastic is touching the element I am going to turn on.  Satisfied, I turn on the burner and go to get dressed.

I hear a crackling noise.  I think nothing of it – probably just the crap on the element that I spilled last time and didn’t clean up. I hear another few pops. Probably just water spurting out from the bottom of the pan.  It starts to smell a little funny.  I think to myself, “Did I just turn on the back burner?”  It smells a little more.  OH *&%@!

I run to the kitchen and see 12-18 inch flames engulfing the plastic kettle.  A fire extinguisher would be really handy right now… I don’t think we have one.  I fill a glass with water and throw it on the fire.  I throw another.  And another.  And another.  Flames are lower and I can turn off the stove. I grab the kettle and throw it in the sink and throw another couple of glasses on the still smoldering element.  That the smoke alarm is blaring at this point pretty much goes without saying.  Fire managed, I tackle the smoke alarm.  A shirt would be nice though as I’m going to have to open the doors to get the smoke out.  Good thinking.

As I’m on the chair taking down the smoke alarm, with the front door open and smoke billowing out the door, my neighbour from upstairs comes down to leave for work.

Him: “Are you okay?”

Me: “Yup, just trying to burn the house down.”

Him: “Okay, good luck with that.  You’re sure you’re okay?”

Me: “Yup, no problem”

Him: “Okay, have a good day!”

Me: “Thanks you too” (Thinking – well I’ve already had a small fire today and it’s only 7:45 how good can this day be?)

Let the clean up begin.  Who threw water all over the floor?! I called my boss to say I was going to be a bit late this morning – I had a small kitchen fire and was just in the process of cleaning up.  Now that immediate danger was out of the way, and I had given myself whatever time I needed to get cleaned up and ready – time to take pictures.

It was a little smokey

Do you know how hard it is to sop up water inside the stove?  It took a long time, and melted plastic aside… it was really dirty in there!

I don't think I can save it

Clean up complete, I moved on and made the pasta salad.

Missing an element but otherwise okay

6 responses

  1. I did the EXACT same thing at my old apartment!!!! I was cooking Bryan after hockey pasta and turned on the wrong stinkin burner. We’ve never moved so fast to get that kettle in the sink.

    Glad you caught it when you did!

  2. I’ve never done this, but it totally sounds like something I would do. I have a terrible habit of taking the food out of the oven and then leaving the oven on. Not the end of the world, but five hours later…it’s pretty hot in the kitchen. J has fire extinguishers all over the house for this very reason. Also…because he’s a volunteer firefighter and it would look really bad if he had to tell people that his girlfriend burned down the house!

    I’m glad you are ok and there wasn’t much damage.

    • Good Call. I think when we pick up a new element we should probably get a fire extinguisher too. I leave the oven on all the time too. The boy freaks out about it, but I usually remember the next time I go into the kitchen. I don’t think that’s too dangerous – it’s not like there’s anything in the oven, and it’s not like it spontaneously combusts any time it is left on for a long time. If it did Thanksgiving and Christmas would be a lot more exciting.

  3. I did a similar thing, albeit much stupider, when I was a kid. When I was about 9, my friend and I were playing with a bouncy ball in the house (that’s stupid thing #1) and, noting the impending doom of having an iron sitting out in the open, I thought I’d be ‘responsible’ (!?!) and put it out of the way. The closest and safest place nearby that I could see was the oven (stupid thing #2). So, of course, that’s where I put it. After our bouncy ball game was over, and we successfully avoided breaking anything, we went outside to play… completely forgetting about the iron (stupid thing #3). About 2 days later, my mom was pre-heating the oven for dinner that night, and was surprised when the house filled up with smoke and a sick electrical smell. She was baffled to find the iron, completely melted, in the oven. That one was reeeealllly hard to explain!

    • That is awesome. Good thing #1 – you were 9 and not 28 when you tried to set the house on fire! The Boy is contsantly crying about my use of the oven as additional storage as well. I keep a giant non-stick pan in there, and it’s rubber handle starts to smell pretty quickly when he turns on the oven and forgets it’s in there. I don’t see how that’s my fault – he KNOWS it’s in there!

      I have a cousin who tried to burn down her kitchen by putting a pop tart in the toaster still in the plastic. I don’t remember how old she was – not very old. Maybe it’s some kind of right of passage!

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