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The Fire

There was a fire in my kitchen yesterday and the fire department was called but let me start off by telling you that we’re all fine and the house is not badly damaged.

But yes, there was a fire in my kitchen and I was the one who caused it.  I know accidents happen; many people have comforted me with those words and in exchange for my story I’ve heard related anecdotes from friends who’ve “been there.”  But I’m still shaken up about it as I vividly remember the sight of flames rising higher than my oven hood and running out of the house yelling “FIRE!  Someone call 911!”

I had been rushing around just minutes before to get ready for our babysitter to arrive for me to leave for youth group.  Mike was already at the church and Mini just woke up from her nap.  I decided last-minute to boil some water for frozen ravioli so the babysitter could have something pre-made for dinner.

I cleaned off Mini’s highchair tray, which is always a big invader of the limited counter space in the kitchen, filled a pot with water, and turned on the stove burner.   When the doorbell rang, obliviously I set the plastic tray down on the other burner to answer the door.  Except it wasn’t on the burner that was turned off…I had turned on the wrong one.

Meanwhile, our wonderful babysitter at the door asked if we’d like to come outside and meet her new puppy.  It was a classic Anna-moment of being distracted.  We all walked down the sidewalk to see the puppy and it was very exciting.  Absent-mindedly, I forgot about what I was doing five minutes prior.

Then I heard a smoke alarm go off.  My neighbor, who was taking out his trash to the common area in front of our townhouses, asked me if I heard that beeping, too.  It wasn’t very loud.  We both started walking toward my house at the same time and I walked in and immediately saw my living room filled with a dark haze.  I ran in the kitchen and saw the enormous flame and screamed.  I fled the house as fast as I could and yelled for help, fearing that we were about to lose everything we owned.  It was a horrible, powerless feeling.

I saw my neighbor call on his cell phone as he ran back into his house and our babysitter started dialing 911, too.  Max, who stayed outside but saw the reflection of the fire, had a terrorized look on his face and started crying about his Legos and I knelt beside him and gained my composure but I was crying, too.  I told him everything was going to be all right and the firemen were on their way.

On the phone with the dispatcher, I explained that there was a fire in my kitchen and that everyone was out of the house.  But just as I said that I saw my neighbor run into the house with his fire extinguisher.  I told the operator that he ran inside and in a stern voice, he commanded me to tell him to get out of the house.  I was overcome with fear over the danger of him being in there and my knees and voice were shaking as I yelled out his name.

My neighbor extinguished the fire and opened up the windows to ventilate the smoke.  In a calm manner, he walked outside and told me the fire was out and that everything is okay.  He said that it was the tray that caught on fire.  He also noticed that I had cooking wine and sherry (expired in 2006) stored in the cabinet above the oven hood and pointed out the danger in keeping flammable liquids close to a heat source.  He was coughing and I was so worried about that, but I was also so thankful that he bravely ran inside.  By instinct, it seemed.

At that time I heard the sirens from a distance and the fire chief called back on my babysitter’s cell phone to talk to me and to get my neighbor’s report.  A few minutes later an ambulance arrived as well as the fire chief’s Suburban.  I guess they knew a big engine wasn’t necessary.  Three firefighters went into the house and a paramedic walked over to talk to me and make sure no one was hurt.

The next thing I knew, one of the firemen brought this out to the front yard.

IMG_8935

And when the house was cleared as safe, safety reminders were given as well as a recommendation for a new place for our fire extinguisher (ours is under the sink but with the child safety latch it’s not a good place to keep it).  Hands were shaken, necks were hugged, caring neighbors were thanked, and everyone sighed in relief.  My hero neighbor went over to another person’s house to get a fan for me and set it up in the front doorway.  Then I walked back in and saw this.

IMG_8933

Not that much damage when you think about what could have been.  I don’t know how fast a fire can spread but I don’t even want to think what the few minutes of waiting for the firefighters to arrive would have caused.  When would the cabinets catch fire?  When would the sprinkler system go off?

A close call.  Just a mess to clean up and thankful prayers to be lifted up for my hero neighbor who stepped up and helped in an emergency.  And for God’s provision of my babysitter and her mom who were such a comfort to me and Max (Mini, thank goodness, was not phased at all.  When she saw the kitchen she said “ohh my” and asked for juice.)  Max did not want to go into the kitchen and see the damage.  I was sick at the thought that I caused this trauma for him and became consumed with cleaning up and returning things to normal.  My babysitter’s mom took the puppy home then came back to help me clean and I was really blessed by that.

Also, thanks to my mom who came over afterwards and spent time with Max then stayed until midnight talking and washing all my dishes, which were covered in soot and fire extinguisher dust.   It seemed like a never-ending mess.  We didn’t even get to the insides of the cabinets.  A hint of smoke and a layer of dust everywhere.

At bedtime, Max and I talked and thanked God for His protection.  We turned to the next page in his devotional and, as only God does in His timing, was titled something like The Lord protects us and comforts us (Psalm 23). God is amazing!

Along with being thankful to the point of tears, I do have plenty of post-trauma feelings to process, though.  Some thoughts I haven’t been able to easily shake.  Please pray.

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21 thoughts on “The Fire

  1. Oh my! I had a teeny-tiny fire in the toaster oven once, and just thinking about it makes my heart race…I can’t even imagine how this must make you feel! I’m sorry you had this experience, but I am SO glad you have been able to see that God has taken care of you through the whole thing!

    So where did they tell you keep your extinguisher now?

    1. They said to keep it mounted on the wall in the kitchen, within easy reach.

      Thanks, everyone, for your comments and prayers.

  2. I’ve never commented on your blog before but I think you need some peace of mind. I actually caught my house on fire last month, much the same way. I put a pan of eggs on to boil and within seconds forgot about them and left the house. I was also very lucky but I still had a big mess to clean up.

  3. Oh Anna!
    I am soo sorry you went through that awful fire! I am so proud of you for turning something so awful into a lesson for “Max” about God’s faithfulness and protection. My heart is still racing after reading your story. I can’t imagine how scared you must have been. Please don’t be hard on yourself about putting the tray on the stove. 9 times out of 10 I turn on the wrong burner and wonder why it is taking the water so long to boil before I realize what I’ve done. We have all been there especially when you’re in a hurry. You are one of the best mother’s I have ever seen and you handled the situation great. I am so proud of you. I will pray that God will give you peace and comfort today. I love you my friend!!

  4. OH. I’m so thankful everyone is ok and there is not much damage to the kitchen. I will pray for everyones comfort and ease from this scary event. If it makes you feel any better, my Dad was cooking last weekend and a bowl of whatever was in there exploded in the microwave. lol 🙂

  5. so glad you are safe… so scary! I am so sorry…

    wow…

    We do all do that, people are right. The only fire I’ve had was when Genny and I were here in Idaho but my husband was still in Michigan. I had left, (to go to dinner with friends) a candle lit, on the stove.

    You hear stories about that, but it never made sense to me how that could become a bad thing. Well it had. We pulled into the driveway and Genny said “what is that bright orange in our kitchen?” (it was dark.) we ran in the house and the jar (for the candle) had caught on fire. Our microwave (above the stove) was on fire. SCARY…

  6. Dear Anna,

    Praise God for good neighbors and family! The fire was difficult enough to process, and I can imagine the first look and the mess the smoke and fire extinguisher left befhind was overwhelming. I would be like you, just as thankful for the cleanup crew as the hero who put out the fire…and it was God’s provision that the children were already outside when it happened. I know He knew that it would have been traumatic for you if they would have still been inside and needed rescuing.

    Well, of course you have to hear about my fire story…LOL!

    I was a seasoned professional…school bus driver, trained in all the areas of safety. We take extensive time before and during the school season to run over all the precautions and safety procedures in case of this or that; one being how to evacuate a school bus in case of emergency, accident. fire etc. Well one very cold day in January I had just picked up my middle school route (my two sons Ryan and Timothy were on the bus as well because I drove for their school) when I noticed flames and smoke coming from the heater unit which is right beside the driver under the window.

    In one quick motion, I pulled the bus off the road, put on the air brakes in my brand new 1984 bus, stood up and shouted, “Everyone off the bus!” The kids were perfect and followed the correct procedure from our emergency exit practice. The two larger boys in the back had been assigned the job of assisting everyone as they jumped from the emergency door at the back of the bus. That was smooth as silk.

    I grabbed the fire extinguisher and started spraying the fire, and everything from the front left side as far back as the 3rd row. My purse was on the floor between the heater and my seat and I filled it full of foam. I was wearing sun glasses and I was covered in foam as well, except where my sunglasses were. I looked pretty funny!

    The fire was out! And the bus was a mess! But the fire was out!

    Another bus had stopped to see what was going on and said they would call and send the shop to help. So we had to wait. The kids were freezing, it was in the 20’s and finally they asked me if they could get back on the bus since the fire was out.

    We all had quite a laugh at the mess I’d made putting out that little fire. From all the foam everywhere it looked like a huge fire…but I was going to be sure I put it out and I did! (Smile) Everyone was cracking up at me because I got covered in the foam too, and they all knew that the fire was just in the unit beside me, and I just kept spraying.

    You never know how you’ll react in an emergency and I guess too much foam was better in my opinion that not enough.

    The guys from the shop showed up with a spare bus and checked out my bus. They were able, of course. to drive it back to the shop and clean it up and fix the wiring that had caught on fire.

    The next year when I started using the heater, it quit working. The cause? The fire extinguisher foam had corroded the connections and they had to be replaced. Funny…and still is a source of humor in our family. Ryan and Timothy love telling people about their mom the school bus driver who sprayed the whole bus for a little electrical fire. How I put them all out of the bus in the cold and how I looked like a snowman with sunglasses.

    Someday…this will be the same for you. Thankful that God protected you and the kids and the house. His mercies are new every morning! Great is His faithfulness.

    Love you!

  7. Oh my goodness! Anna, I am so thankful for God’s amazing provision and that all of you are safe! Your story immediately brought to mind this post
    http://www.lostinlaundry.com/2009/09/sinking.html
    from my friend Starr’s blog. I hope her words will give you some encouragement.

    I will be praying for you, my bloggy friend, that “…the God of hope [will] fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” (Rom 15:13)

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” 2 Cor 1:3

  8. I am so thankful you all are safe and there is minimal damage. I am also so thankful for your brave neighbor! God puts such wonderful people in our lives.

    I have turned on the wrong burner before and it is mistake that is so easily made and it ruined my favorite pizza stone!

    On a lighter note…I’m glad to see the Longaberger basket was unharmed!! 🙂

    Love to all…give Max an extra hug from me.

  9. Anna, be sure and read the weblink that Valerie pointed out in her comment.

    It blessed me and I know it will you!

    It’s perfect! 🙂

  10. My husband was cooking one night and knocked the bottle of olive oil over onto the burner. All of the sudden there was this long flame shooting up, I’ve never seen anything like it. Luckily he had the presence of mind to grab the fire extinguisher, and he emptied its ENTIRE contents on the stove. It was such a mess to clean up, but the real damage was to my psyche. All I could think about was, what if it had been worse, what if, what if. Finally I had to take those thoughts captive. But it really shakes you up! Don’t feel bad about Max, maybe you have inspired something in him to become a fireman when he grows up! (At least you didn’t start a fire by leaving a pita pocket in the office toaster oven like Ryan)

  11. Anna- oh my… Just found out as I was looking on FB. Glad everyone is ok. Praise God for that. I am going to go buy a fire extinguisher tomorrow. We should all have one. Thank God for your calm, clear thinking neighbor.

  12. Oh Anna! I finally had time to sit down and catch up on my blog reading!! I can not even imagine! I am so thankful that the Lord had His hand on you guys through this.

  13. Oh Anna!! I’m so sorry you had to go through that! Thank God for your neighbor an that everyone is safe! I’ll definitely keep you in my prayers!!

  14. Hey Anna,
    One more story. A couple of years ago, I lit candles in my room for care group (so people would have a nice feeling when they put their winter coats on the bed and picked them up). J. Aman insisted he smelled smoke. Impossible I thought…until I remembered! I ran to our room to find our dresser on fire with the old tv melting. I blew and the fire got bigger. I just didn’t know what to do. I ran to get our fire extiguisher (that Grace insisted we buy because of T. Patton’s safety class at AC). By the time I returned, Willy had dowsed it all in water. It worked! So many children were playing upstairs. I am still grateful it didn’t progess. So, the tealight jumped up higher than the glass it was set inside and that caught the nantucket basket container (it all came together) on fire. Wow. That could have been so much worse. I am praising God you are all safe. Enjoy picking out pretty paint!
    Love,
    Sarah

  15. So glad to hear that you all are well and that the damage wasn’t too great. (of course I only read about it way after the fact!)

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