Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Miss O'Leary.

When I was younger and would attend church camp, we'd sing the Chicago Fire song.

"Late light night, when we were all in bed, 
Miss O'Leary took a lanturn to the shed,
and when the cow tipped it over,
she'd winked her eye and said, 
"It's gunna be a hot time, in the ol' town tonight.
Pour on water, pour on water, 
Save my children, save my children!
Jump, Lady, Jump!

When you're a teenager, it seemed like a funny song. After yesterday, I'm no longer amused.

When Nate was 9 years old, he lost his house to a fire. He lost everything. And when I would jokingly flick a lighter, or a horse around, Nate would freak out and yell at me that fire was nothing to joke about.

So yesterday, I was home alone and I decided to make myself some dinner on the George Foreman. I was grilling myself some sausage and pineapple, and had just put my cous cous mix on the stove. I thought since I had 5-10 minutes that I'd take the dogs out. Besides, I wanted to see if my neighbors were outside grilling because something smelled like it was getting wood burned. Like a hickory log or something.

So, I shut off the stove, ushered the dogs outside, and when I walked through the mudroom, I saw smoke outside of the window.

I thought- "I didn't light the grill...why is there smoke?"

It almost looked like smoke coming out of the little holes on the top of the grill.

But...I didn't light the grill.

My thoughts were racing as I walked onto the deck.

"Is the sun really so hot it relit the coals in the grill? Is that even possible?"

But no, when I came out through the second door, there was a 2 foot flame eating the back deck.

It had ignited a black plastic dog bowl on the railing that was flinging burning plastic through the air, and almost looked like an electrical wire fire.

But there's no electric back there.

I immediately flung into action running back into the kitchen and grabbing the dogs' two gallon water jug (that thank god I'd just filled up about 10 minutes earlier). After dousing the flames with the water, I ran back inside and grabbed our fire extinguisher and emptied the whole. thing. on the fire.

It wasn't until I didn't see any more flames that I fell to the ground and started to cry.

We had just grilled the night before so there was lighter fluid on the table about a foot from the fire. And the fire was only 3-4 feet from the house. One big gust of wind and the house could have been up in flames.

Once I regained a shred of realization what happened, I grabbed the melted bowl off the railing and threw it into the dirt, and started to piece together what happened.

I looked up and saw the sun. It hasn't rained here in about two weeks, so all the wood on our deck (which isn't pressure treated or anything) was so dry. The sun was placed in the sky just so it could make a beam of light off the grill onto the plastic bowl. I don't know if there was debris in there or not (it's the dog's outside water bowl) but if there were any tree droppings (flowers, pollen, etc.) in there, the sun could have heated up the black bowl to the point whatever was inside just combusted or something. But, at the end of the day, we'll probably never know what started the fire. In this picture, if you look in the lower left, you'll see the remnants of the bowl.

So I drug the grill in the shadows, the lighter fluid got put away and I stared at the hole in my deck filtering through all the "oh, my god. What if..."

What if I'd been taking a nap?
What if the wind picked up?
What if I hadn't taken the dogs out?
What if...
What if...
What if...

And even after I'd called the fire department and they told me that if there wasn't smoke that it was gone, I still sat there and stared at it for half an hour. Then looked out the window every ten minutes until Nate got home. Just sure it was going to combust again. 

I know it is nothing to losing your home or family (as many have) but it certainly shook me up enough. Looking at the damage, the flame had to have been going for awhile and I was none the wiser. 

I just wanted to share this with everyone and beg you all to check your family's fire extinguishers. We didn't even purchase the one that was in our house- it was left here by a previous owner. If it hadn't have been in the house it could have been bad.

Please check your smoke detectors, check your fire extinguishers, and make sure to put away your dangerous materials immediately after using them. I can't imagine where we'd be if that fire had hit the lighter fluid.

Stay safe everyone. Love you guys.


  1. so scary! I'm so glad everything turned out okay! And how crazy is that?! who would guess that something like that could happen?!

  2. Holy crap!!!! Scary! So glad it wasn't worse, emma.

  3. Wow, I’ll definitely be re-checking the placement of our extinguishers and making sure I know how to use them, and my 5-year-old son too, in case he ever has to. And that also reminds me that I need to revisit our family’s “fire escape plan.” I’m so glad nothing worse happened to your house!!

  4. So glad you caught it in time! That wood looks old and dry, and it could have been so much worse. Last year I purchased a new make-up mirror. It was a beautiful day, and I had opened the windows and raised the shades. The sun hit the mirror, and it was shining on the wall. I happened to walk into the bedroom, and saw the bright light on the wall. I put my hand to the wall, and it was shockingly hot.......... had I not gone into the room right at that time, a fire could easily have started. We all know what happens with magnifying glasses and mirrors.... I shudder everytime I think about it. So now, I always make sure to point the mirror down!

  5. Scary stuff! I'm glad you caught it in time. Time to police our house a bit closer. We're so hot and dry here that I could see it happening. I've seen two of my neighbors houses burn; its not pretty (arson & cigarette).

  6. That is frightening. I'm glad everything ended fine. You were definitely inspired to go out and check.

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  8. Holy crap! That had to have been so scary! So glad it wasn't worse and on the bright side, now you get to update your deck :). Thanks for the reminder, I need to replace our fire extinguishers (I'm a horrible cook so I use the one in the kitchen about once a year).

  9. So freakin' scary!! I am terrified of house fires. I know your heart must have been racing! Glad it didn't spread and you were able to get it out fast! I would have probably ran around for several minutes before I gathered my wits about me to do anything.


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