We had a fire in our house this week. A serious, middle-of-the-night, smoke-filled, smoke-alarm-did-not-go-off, emergency. As I think I mentioned in my previous post, I've had bronchitis (going on 2 months now) and have had trouble sleeping. Usually my disrupted sleep is due to the pitter patter of tiny footsteps coming to tell me that 'my covers are twisted' or 'I have a bad cough' and then I start coughing and can't go back to sleep. Out of desperation and for the first time in our four-and-a-half years in this house, I decided to sleep on the pull-out sofa downstairs, which everyone else insists is dreadfully uncomfortable. Naturally, one of my last thoughts before drifting off to sleep was 'Holy shit, I am so freaking comfortable right now.' It didn't last, though. At about one o'clock in the morning, I awoke, as usual, to a noise. I called out with my eyes closed to see who answered. No one. I opened my eyes and thought, 'why is the house foggy?' I automatically got up and went to the kitchen. Subconsciously, I think my brain knew that the kitchen was the source of the sound, even though I assumed it was a family member. I pushed open the door and could not see for black smoke. I ran upstairs to my wake my husband and then went to the children's rooms, which are side by side. My husband ran into the kitchen as the dishwasher went ablaze.* He apparently did what you are advised not to do in an electrical fire and threw the water from the washing-up bowl onto it. Since he didn't have time to think, he did what he had to do and, thankfully for us, water did the trick. I had closed the children's doors and put towels at the base of the doors and we went around opening all the windows. The children slept through the entire incident. The first time both kids have slept through the night in months, half the reason I was sleeping downstairs in the first place. We stood there looking at each other, realizing how fortunate we'd been, and then debated what to do next. Call the fire dept? The fire was out. Call an ambulance? We were sooty, but didn't seem to be suffering from smoke inhalation. So I called my dad, a retired building inspector who used to go to building sites after a blaze and determine whether they were safe to reenter. He told us what else we could do until morning when we'd need to call our insurance company. My husband took a shower and went back to bed. I couldn't sleep. I stayed downstairs, periodically checking the melted dishwasher for signs of reigniting. I watched an episode of Vampire Diaries. I called my sister. I called my best friend. (Thank goodness for time differences.) I didn't get upset about my filthy, black-stained floors and walls. Or my destroyed kitchen. My family was safe; we still had a roof over our heads. Nothing else mattered.
The insurance assessor comes on Monday morning and we need to leave everything 'as is' as much as possible and we obviously can't use our kitchen, so living here, we look like a family of chimney sweeps, all with blackened fingernails and constant smudges on our faces. I hope the cleaners can come sooner after because I don't how long my high-on-life attitude will last. It's only a matter of time before the stinky walls and trail of soot will be my mental undoing. I like a clean house. I like a house with a useable kitchen, but in the meantime, I'll keep my reminding myself how much I love my family and how glad I am to have bronchitis. If I hadn't slept downstairs that night, I don't think I'd be sitting here typing this blog now.
*Yes, the dishwasher actually burst into flames. Dishwashers can catch fire - who knew? (Well, Bosch, apparently, as our model was recalled last year due to this 'low risk' of fire. We didn't buy the dishwasher; it's more than five years old and came with our house so we didn't have any product registration information. Consider us informed.)