Monday, December 15, 2008

The Short Version: Fire At My Place

Ruth and I just spent a couple of days getting Dane moved from Jefferson City to Jefferson Place Apartments in Olathe. This is enough stress for me, in my opinion, but apparently my opinion doesn't count.

So, I'm driving down the street to my place tonight, and I notice the porch light is off. As a residual reaction from more stressful financial days, I first wonder if I didn't pay the electric bill.

As I walk in the front door, I smell the past tense of a fire. The place wasn't filled with smoke (the downstairs lights worked fine). I thought maybe a piece of paper got on a heating vent and that's what I was smelling. I checked the living room, the dining room, and then went into the kitchen.

When I tried the kitchen light, it didn't work. At this point I thought maybe a breaker blew and that's the former-fire-like smell I was picking up. I decided to go ahead and get the other laundry basket out of the car and take it upstairs.

As I'm going upstairs, I realize the lights are off upstairs (the upstairs everything is connected to the porch light--and apparently the kitchen and dining room lights... maybe. I was just thinking how I should maybe go down the the basement and check on that breaker when I notice it looks like water or something had been running down the wall by the stairs.

So my new theory was that a branch or something landed on the roof, water got in (I wasn't sure if it had rained or what while I was gone), and that caused some electrical issue, and that's why I smelled the past tense of fire and the lights weren't all working.

I decide to go on upstairs, with the theory in my head that there's a hole in the roof. I can tell by the light coming in the bathroom window that there's something odd about the shower. I have a shower curtain hanging up in front of the window in the shower--as the window isn't opaque at all.

I'm starting to wonder if a huge chunk of the roof is gone, but that doesn't seem right, as it's freezing cold outside and not so much inside... but I still think I was sticking with this theory.

I walk into the bedroom and set the clothes basket on the bed. I can do this in the dark because I've done it so many times before.


Based on my previous theory, my first thought was there were a bunch of dead leaves on my bed.

I reached down and touched the bed, and whatever I touched fell away as I touched it.

Insert a moment of insanity here. The sad thing is, if we were to ever travel back in time, it would be too dark to make out my facial expression.

I try to use my cell phone to get some light. I can't see anything at first, but then realize the bed has been burned to a crisp.

Seriously: burned to a crisp.

My first instinct is to reach down to where the space heater is, and touch the buttons--to feel if they're on or off. Of course, I can't remember which is which, so I then hold the phone up to the buttons to actually see.

I can't really make anything out with such little light, so I go downstairs for a flashlight.

On my way down, I call Tricia. I figure they're not TOO far asleep at this point, as I'd left there not long ago--and I figure I'd be staying there if it turns out I'm not dreaming the whole bed-is-a-pile-of-ashes thing.

While talking to Tricia, I go back up with the flashlight. I hope I get pictures of this, because I'm not sure I can describe it. I guess it's a fire miracle, as the house is still standing, and the roof isn't burned up.

It looks like my bed just burned up, melting stuff around it, but not catching anything else on fire. Books that were less than a foot from the bed look more heat-damaged than anything else.

Oh, and I think I figured out where the fire started--but I'm not trained in that sort of thing, so I could be wrong. Tricia was adamant that I call the fire department, and I wasn't sure how to reach them--I mean, 911 is for emergencies. Turns out there's a non-emergency number in the phone book.

They send a couple of guys over to check things out. I explain my theory, but they're all weirded out by the fact only the bed is burned (and a patch of carpet by the bed). Everything else was damaged by the heat more than the first, it appears.

So they say they have to call in the arson specialist!

Well, I am a teacher. So arson isn't out of the question, right?

One guy goes and checks the breaker box, and a breaker had been tripped, so they think it was something electrical--but the arson specialist will still have to check things out tomorrow (or today, many hours from now).

So let's focus on the positive: The downstairs is pretty much unscathed. (Febreeze gets out past-tense-fire smell, right?)

I wasn't in the bed when this whole thing happened.

My new laptop was downstairs at the time.

The first probably ran out of oxygen, and nothing too upsetting was totally destroyed (although the book I was reading is now a pile of ashes--I'd left it on the bed... along with another book, actually. Oh yeah, positive...)

So that's what I'm dealing with right now. I'm going to work tomorrow, as I have a full week, and I'm not sure what good I'd be standing in my charred upstairs. I don't know. Maybe I won't go to school tomorrow--well, if I don't, I'll still have to go in to set up plans, etc., but you know what I mean.

Check it out: The first year in years that I haven't done the fire-hazard-y tree and house-lights--and here I am without a bed, and maybe without a place to live for a while! What's up with that.

Remember to pray for my friend who is having a little surgery on that tumorness tomorrow!

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