Earlier today I linked to a post over at Wittingshire, which relates a story of hiding things in the oven, and then turning on the oven... I ended with a crack about 'at least the house didn't burn down'...
It turns out this was a day for house fire stories. Not too long after I posted, some neighbors noticed a roaring chimney fire at a house up the hill from us and called 911. The firefighters got there and knocked on the door. No answer. They thought maybe the back entrance would be easier to force, so they went around there and were about to bash in when they looked in the window and saw the lady of the house sitting in the living room, probably about five feet from them - watching television. The chimney, you understand, is doing a very good imitation of a blowtorch, the fire has spread to the attic and the rafters - and she's kicking back and watching TV.
It gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view). As we hear it (I haven't talked to the lady in question, but we're fairly sure of this since some firefighters let it out), B---- had noticed a fire in the chimney earlier. Sparks had rained on her carpet. She had put out those fires with a couple of cups of water - and then had gone back to her show.
She's old, but she's not that old.
Her family and friends will remind her of this for years, I'll just bet.
I hear the fire was kept contained to the roof and attic. I hope so. Even at that, this is a bad time of year to have holes in the house. It's cold. We're having rain and snow off and on, separately or mixed, at least as often as we're having clear skies. I assume there's water damage from the fire hoses. Ugh. At least she and her husband have family in town, if they need help or a place to sleep.
In the town about a dozen miles east of here, I understand that another family lost its house altogether from fire today. I heard that the Red Cross got called in to find them emergency shelter. I guess they don't have anybody near at hand.
It's that time of year. We get a lot of chimney fires around here in winter, especially early winter. People just don't seem to think to clean them between seasons. Or they toss any old flammable stuff in to burn, without thinking about the rules about what's safe to burn in fireplaces. (I have a special beef with folks who burn treated wood, and send nasty fumes out into the town for the rest of us to choke on. Shame on people like that. I like wood smoke, within limits. But toxic fumes I can do without, thanks.)
You-all who have chimneys, take proper care of them now. Please.
And, uh, if your chimney kicks a bunch of sparks out at you, turn off the TV and pay attention, OK?
(Or at least answer the door when the firefighters pound on it.)
I wish I knew what show is so good that it can keep you riveted even during a disaster on the premises...
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