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Friday, July 18, 2008

Random Photo Report: Fire!

I have an ongoing project of scanning in the hard copy photographs that fill boxes of photo albums throughout the house. As I was going through yet another shoebox full of pictures taken over the years, tossed in in no particular order, I came across this little gem:This is what happens when you burn your kitchen down. Or what the fire department guys call, a simple grease fire.

This one probably deserves more than a single picture, so I'll expand by telling you first and foremost, that even though I like to tell people about the time my wife burnt down the kitchen, this event was caused by the both of us being amazingly, irresponsibly, stupid. Maybe we can save you the excitement.

This whole thing started because my wife had had an incredibly productive day at home while I was having a remarkably productive day at work. She had done a series of things including painting the front door to our house, getting the grill set-up, having burger patties all set out and ready to grill and so forth.

Like a regular Leave it to Beaver episode, I walked in the front door from work and my wife greeted me with a beer and pointed me to the grill. I wonder if Ward Cleaver drank beer or cooked out? As my son played video games in his room, my daughter was on the computer in the room next to the kitchen doing homework or chatting.

I would throw the burgers on low, and my wife would heat up some oil to cook some home made steak fries. But, then the question came? "Did you notice I painted today?" my wife asked, and that would set-off a series of silly mistakes that lead to fire.

I don't even recall the time of year, but it must have been cool enough that the A/C wasn't on because when I walked in from the grill, I left the back door open. We walked out through the garage, and I opened up the garage door, then walked around to inspect the new paint on the front door. We could not have been outside for more than a minute to two minutes, simply because I was worried about the burgers on the grill and my wife was worried about the grease on the stove.

My daughter, sitting in the room next to the wall on fire, later said she heard the crackling sound of the fire, but thought it was the french fries cooking in the grease.

Even though we have one of those glass top stoves (no actual gas flame), the hot grease combined with the flow of the air caused by the doors on either side being wide open, sparked.

When we walked in, my wife was in front of me and could see the flames first. She began yelling Hey, Hey, Hey! instead of Fire! Fire! Fire!

Having no idea what it was about, I walked in with bottle of beer in full tilt and suddenly get the jolt of my life. My first reaction was to grab a cover for the pan to stop the grease and flames from spreading. Unfortunately, the cover to the pan was in the cabinet below the flames.

Suddenly, what little common sense I have, kicked into action: To my wife, "Call 9-1-1, NOW!" To my son who ran into the room, "Go turn off the breaker for the stove and the kitchen!" And to my daughter, "Get out of the house!"

And then common sense generally left me. I couldn't find a cover for the pan so I began to consider other options. At a point like this, who remembers science from the fifth grade and the business about flour and fire or corn meal and fire or baking soda and fire or sugar and fire? I mean, who knows?

All I did know was that by the time the cabinets were inflamed, and the plastic decorative grates from our light fixtures in the ceiling had melted and fallen on top of me, that it was no longer an issue of saving the kitchen, but now limiting the damage to the first story of the house. I ran to the front of the house and pulled the garden hose inside with the idea that I could spray the cabinets and ceiling and avoid the grease which would obviously not be a good thing.

I got off maybe one or two shots at the upper cabinets then finally used a towel or something to get the main fire out. Just as the San Antonio Fire Department calmly strolled into the front door.I can tell you this - from the time my wife called until they were at our door could not have been more than 4 to 5 minutes. We live very close to the fire station, and of course now, more than ever I appreciate it.The fire was clearly out but to be safe, the fireman walked in with his long poking stick and said, "Oh look, a simple grease fire" then promptly poked a hole through the wall behind the stove, pulled out some smoldering sheet rock and took a flash light to insure that there was no fire inside the wall.
They closed the windows that we had opened, then hooked up some fans to suck out most of the smoke. One of the firefighter put my daughter on oxygen to help her get the smoke she had sucked up out. Maybe she didn't go outside when I told her to!

Oh, the other thing is, just at the time the fire went out and the fire department rolled in, our smoke alarm from the second story hall way started beeping that loud piercing sound to alert us to the smoke. Nice.

So we learned a few things. Like now, we actually have a fire extinguisher. And we now have a smoke alarm near the kitchen, not just near the bedrooms.

And we got a new kitchen.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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