When the smoke cleared

Published on July 5 2007

"....My house Out of the ordinary Thats right Don't want to hurt nobody Some things sure can sweep me off my feet Burning down the house..."
Yeah, yeah, I know... What's really bad is that I was *singing* it while scrubbing soot this afternoon. Me. Singing. Not a picture any of you want in your heads, trust me. A note I wrote to a friend this afternoon:
It's a helluva way to get a new kitchen. I've been so damn careful with the sawdust, the stain cans, the brushes, etc. from doing the living room floor. I *know* the stuff self-ignites, I know this--- I've trained on it in fireschool! I know the chemical reaction, the oxidation, involved. I've put out this type of fire at work in fire brigade. I KNOW this stuff backwards and forwards. So what did I do? I threw a couple used rags from mopping stain in the garbage last night, and then was so tired from working on the floor all day that I forgot to haul the garbage out. End result was what would have been an extremely cool explosion if it hadn't been in my house. And one helluva lot of smoke damage throughout the whole downstairs-- the kitchen is absolutely black with layers of greasy soot. A damaged wall in the kitchen, as well. All of the painting, etc. I've done over the last few months will have to be redone. And if you can imagine what firemen and hoses, etc. can do to a freshly stained (but not sealed) maple floor.....well, I'm not the happiest camper right now. I'm just sick at my stupidity and my luck. About the only thing I did right was get the hell out as soon as my fire extinguisher went empty, but thankfully I managed to knock it down to basically smoke before I bailed out of here--only the wall was smoldering when the FD arrived, but the smoke was incredible. I've never seen a cloud so thick... I'm just covered in soot and CO2 dust. I need a shower (bad) and a nap. God, I'm tired, and it's only 3 in the afternoon.
And there you have it. I heard a loud snap and a strange whoosh from the kitchen as I was lying in bed this morning, and figured I'd better go see. As soon as I opened my bedroom door, I heard the flames, ran for the fire extinguisher next to the fireplace, and headed for the kitchen. I had the sense enough to not race in; but pulled the pin, flung it across the room, and stuck my arm around the corner to let 'er fly. I only had a few seconds of pressure before the extinguisher was empty-- the next one I buy will be much larger! I dropped the extinguisher, peeked around the door to see flames once again crawling up the wall, and decided it was time to get out. Back to the bedroom to throw on a pair of shorts and a tank top (I know, I know, but I doubt the neighborhood was ready for the sight of my unmentionables after they'd partied all night on the 4th!), grabbed the cellphone and the cat and ran... It's funny. We always talk about the "things we'll save in case of a fire", but as I ran barefoot through the cloud of greasy black smoke towards the door, only one word went through my head. "Out". Miraculously, I stayed calm while making the phone calls, even though I had seen the flames against the wall. I knew once they flashed to the freshly-stained living room floor, it would be all over. I believed in my heart that my house was gone. When I left, I thought I would never walk back up those steps. And I still stayed calm. I don't know how. Even more miraculously, during the short (but eternally long) five minutes or so that it took for the Fire Department (Hi Mike! Hi Glenn! How's the family?) to arrive, the fire died on its own. They gave it one small shot with the big hose to make sure, then opened all the windows and set up the big fan to clear the smoke. Standing outside, I could not believe it was over so fast, and that there was so little damage given the incredible cloud of smoke. A few pics of the aftermath..... { gallery [fire] } The first insurance agent took her pictures, told me I could do whatever immrdiate cleaning I needed, and told me that an adjuster would contact me. Still waiting on that, and I hope it doesn't portend a claim battle. I haven't a clue how this works--in all my years, I've never had to make a claim on house insurance, lol. All of my furniture was piled in the dining room about three feet from the fire, so I may be dealing with that smoke damage as well as the damage in the kitchen. Wish me luck. And join me in my little prayer of thanks that this was so much less than it could have been.

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Published on #'Sconsin stuff, #Home Improvement, #Photos

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L
Thanks, Karl. I have(had?) a sign in my kitchen that says "Dinner will be served when the smoke alarm goes off". I honestly always believed that *that* was how I would burn the place down.
Shawn can vouch for my cooking talents, or lack thereof.
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C
Jesus, Laurie. I go away from reading your blog for a couple of days, and return to this drama.

I'm glad you're ok. Take care, alright?
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K
Just think, you might be imortalized in a fire safety video. Text book spontaneous combustion! And about the phone, certainly they can have style. We have a 1920's reman phone like they used at Godseys' country store on "The Waltons" in our kitchen. We bought it from the "Cracker Barrel" restaraunt. It hangs on the wall in the kitchen. We also have a "Tiffany" style phone on the bedside table.
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L
Too late. It now exists only in a photo in my claims adjuster's mailbox. Wonder if I should tell him I dropped the landline two months ago?

What's really hilarious is that the very first time the "new" name is used in public, it's over the radio as a Public Service Announcement on "how to not do something as dumb as throwing oilsoaked rags in your garbage can". Thank you, WJJQ...... I always wanted to be famous.

P.S. Phones have style??
I am so out of touch.
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K
Yeah, shawn your right about the phone. I didn't want to say anything but the phone is one of those things that can be soooo out of style but you never seem to notice in your own house. I think you should put that phone in a glass case as a momento of the Laurie Crofoot fire incident.
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