Friday, December 21, 2012

Something bad turned into something good

Tuesday morning started out as a disaster in our household.  The weather was bad and the dirt road where we live was scary to drive.  My son tried to get to work at 5:15, but turned around and came back home, not feeling safe on the road.  He decided he'd try again after the town cinder trucks had been through.

My wife and I were getting ready for work, hoping the cinder truck would be through by 6:30, because we needed to leave early for what promised to be a tough commute.  But, before we could leave, we heard on the radio that a tractor trailer had jackknifed very close to where we enter the interstate and the road was closed.  We considered alternate routes.  The shortest alternate route goes through an environmentally sensitive area - the headwaters of two different wild trout streams, and the road crews rarely use salt on that rolling and winding stretch of road.  Another option would add 20+ miles to our commute.

So, we waited.  Finally, around 7:00, things were looking a little better.  My son was about to leave for work, but he noticed our wood stove kicking out a lot of smoke from the pipe that goes into the chimney.  I opened the stove, and the flames headed right toward me, nearly singing my eyebrows and hair.  Clearly, something wasn't right with the chimney.  We quickly took the fire down, by removing the logs one at a time and throwing them in the new snow in the back yard.  I then shoveled more snow on top of the logs.  We then filled our ash bucket with hot coals and stored that outside, far from the house.  But, by the time we had extinguished the fire, the house was full of smoke.  We opened windows and started some fans to clear the smoke as quickly as possible.

By this point in time, my son had left for work and my daughter was waiting at the top of the driveway for the school bus.  We decided to get in the car and head towards the interstate, hoping it would open soon.

And then, I noticed the volcano on our roof.  We had a chimney fire near the top of the chimney.  Bright ashes were spewing onto the roof and some were smoldering on the roof.  We tried throwing snowballs to hit the ashes with minimal success.  We hooked up a hose and found our outside faucet didn't have the pressure to reach the ashes.  I tried my roof rake, but the handle wasn't long enough.  So, we waited and watched.  Finally, around 9:00, it was drizzling lightly, the fire was out, the smoldering ashes appeared to be out, and we'd heard that the interstate was open again.  We called our neighbors and asked them to do a quick visual inspection in the next hour or so, to be sure the roof wasn't on fire.

At one point in the morning, I had been so frustrated by the whole situation that I'd quoted some lyrics from a Bloodhound Gang song to my wife:

The roof the roof the roof is on fire
The roof the roof the roof is on fire
The roof the roof the roof is on fire
We don't need no water let the motherf*cker burn
Burn motherf*cker burn

It made us laugh in the middle of all of this.  Partly, we remember how much our son loved this song, "Fire Water Burn", when he was younger.  Luckily, FM radio would bleep out some of the words, but our son would sit in his car seat and randomly start singing "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire".

Of course, by referring to the song lyrics, I didn't mean I wanted the place to burn, and we had pets inside the house, but I was not having a good morning.

We made it to work by 10:00 and worked a bit late that night.  But, something occurred to me much later.  What if that tractor trailer hadn't jackknifed?  We would have all left the house before the smoke started to spew from the stove.

The wood stove was full of burning wood and we have a large sized wood stove that is our primary heat source.  There was no place for the smoke to go.  The fire in the stove would have fueled the fire in the chimney.

In a best case scenario, I'm guessing our house would have filled completely with smoke and our dogs and cats would have been killed, especially the dogs who are in crates during the day and have nowhere to go.  The chimney would have been destroyed by the intense fire, rather than sustaining minimal damage.  And in a worst case scenario, the entire place might have burned down to the ground.

Somehow, a bad morning for a truck driver and a slow road crew and the bad weather all "conspired" to most likely prevent a much bigger problem.  The thought of our dogs suffocating or burning in their kennels is too much to even think about.  The stuff can be replaced.  It would be a hassle, but it could be replaced.  Family pets, some of whom have been with us for a decade or more, cannot simply be replaced.

We skipped CrossFit that night, but had two tough workouts the past two nights.  Last night's workout was one of the toughest I've ever had at CF, and with skiing on the schedule for the weekend, I'm taking today as an unplanned rest day.

Sugarbush has opened some natural snow trails, they got more snow last night, and hopefully, they'll dodge any rain today.  It could be a really fun weekend on the mountain, at least until the deep freeze arrives for Sunday.


Jeff Farbaniec said...

Bloodhound Gang! That brings back some memories...

I'm glad everything (mostly) worked out OK. Get your chimney checked by a sweep asap. Is that something you've done periodically, or has it gone unchecked for a while? There are a lot of variables that come into play that contribute to the condition of a chimney.

Harriet said...

That's some series of events! Glad it turned out ok.

Damon said...

We usually get the chimney checked every year, but somebody hadn't made the call yet this year. It was checked out after the fire though, and we had a little damage, but we are good to use it again. With the temperature change coming Saturday night, I'm glad we can use the wood stove.