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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Comedy of Errors, with lots of smoke...

I was sleeping in my van, out in the yard. Why I was sleeping in my van out in the yard is another story. As I said, I was sleeping. A knocking awoke me. I waited. Lot's of things might knock in the night. The knocking came again.

"Who is there?" I asked.


"What's up?" I asked. It had to be late, and my son Jon had no night knocking proclivities of which I was aware.

"Mom asked me to tell you the house is on fire."

I lay there a moment.

"Is the house on fire?" I asked.

"It was. Everyone is outside while the smoke clears."

I decided I needed to get up. I did so, and wandered to the front porch where the whole family was gathered.

To tell the rest of the story, we need to go back to early evening. I sat at my computer, and my wife Linda sat at hers. There was a bang outside, and the lights went out. Our computers were both on battery back up systems, so we started to shut them down as family members found each other in the dark. Flashlights came on, a few candles were lit. Soon the computers were shut down, along with the modem and the wifi router.

That part about the modem and router will prove important, later.

Beth, my daughter, had started boiling water for spaghetti. I went and got the camp stove from the shed, and set it up on the stove top. It is one of those electric glass top stoves. The rest of the kitchen was in disorder, as we were in the middle of renovations and the counter tops were covered with construction materials and dirty dishes. The stove top seemed a good place to set up the camp stove.

It was not.

We got the water boiling, cooked the noodles, got everybody fed. With the power out, there was little to do, and so everyone made their way to bed. As I noted before, I was using the van as a bedroom, and that is where I went.

Now, back to the front porch. It's about two in the morning, the power is back on, and everyone is on the porch. Here is how the events were related to me.

Linda awoke when the lights came back on. She started her computer, but could not get on the Internet. As I related, the modem and router were on another power line, and the back up supply was still turned off. Linda was not familiar with how this was set up, and not being able to connect she headed for the bathroom.

As she made her way down the hall, she observed billowing clouds of smoke up in the vaulted ceiling of the living room. She rushed to the kitchen, to find the camp stove burning on the stove top. None of us had made sure that the power switch for the electric burner was turned off. With all of the finding people in the dark and setting up camp, it had simply been overlooked.

Finding that she could not blow the fire out like a birthday candle, she ran back and awoke my son-in-law Dave. Beth awoke as well. Dave went to the kitchen to try and smother the fire. Beth remembered the fire extinguisher, which she located and applied. By this time the house was full of smoke.

I am sure I am missing some of the details. I was sleeping in my van at the time. Anyway, everyone was awakened and moved out of the house as windows were thrown open and fans started and the elimination of smoke begun. Then Jon was dispatched to awaken his father, who was sleeping in the van.

That's me, by the way.

What had burned on the camp stove were two plastic feet. The ones sitting on the burner that had not been turned off, but we did not know that because the power was out. Fortunately, nothing else had become involved. Had my wife been able to connect to the Internet, she would not have made the discovery when she did. The house may have become involved in the fire, and things would have become very unpleasant.

Linda declares Divine Providence. I do, as well, but I also think we were lucky. I am convinced that God has incorporated an element of luck in the whole Providence thing, just to make things interesting.

So, what have we learned, Dorothy? I don't think I will use the stove top as a counter space from now on. That was dumb. Also, in the event of a power outage I think I will be checking the status of stoves and other things that may cause a fire. Finding and accounting for everyone in the confusion caused this critical oversight. That cannot be allowed to happen again.

It was quite possible that I would have awakened to find most of my family gone, literally up in smoke. I am very thankful that such was not the case. I am rather fond of them, and they still seem willing to put up with me after all of these years. Even if I insist in sleeping in a van.

Why was I sleeping in the van? That will have to be another story.


Jerry said...

I'm not sure I was supposed to laugh, but I did. I figured that is something I would have done, so I can truly relate.

You tell your tale well -- and I am certainly glad nothing really terrible happened.

Carol said...

I laughed too. I didn't mean to but I always do things like that and vow never to do them again and next time I do something dumber. Glad everyone and everything was ok.

Michael Lockridge said...

We all laughed, as well. I certainly won't vow not to do anything of the sort again. It is inevitable, I am afraid.

This will be just another family joke, for years and years. We have a pretty good collection.

Life is funny, except when someone gets hurt. Then it is hilarious!

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