a little bit too much excitement for my liking
'Anything for a story,' I usually say. I love a bit of a drama and never fail to warm to the thrall of people hanging off my every word. Cecily is my name, attention seeking my game, and if I have to ham it up a little for effect, so be it.
This story will not be like that. It is sufficiently exciting on its own that it does not require any embellishment. In fact, for several moments tonight I felt fear, the whole thing was so real and potentially terrible.
It all started with slivered almonds. Or was it the busy evening that did it? I came home from work early enough, but had two events to attend one after the other, starting at 6:30pm. We haven't been eating until 7:30 or later due to the lovely, light evenings, so I was gearing up for an early, quick meal before running out the door. I opted for an easy asian-style chicken salad and was pretty pleased to discover I had slivered almonds after all and could garnish to my heart's content. I sprinkled them onto a tray, added a few sesame seeds to the mix and threw them under the gas grill.
'Don't forget the grill,' I muttered to myself. (I'm always burning nuts and seeds under that thing, but it's so much easier than stirring them all in a dry pan) Of course, I immediately forgot them and sailed out into the next room. I was engrossed in another activity when I heard a bit of a popping and creaking sound...
Running into the kitchen, I was confronted by the tray and its contents, which were well alight. We're talking serious flames fuelled by gas. Eek. 'It's on fire,' I yelled and ran over to turn off the gas.
Nothing happened, so I closed the grill door to cut off oxygen, only to discover a whopping great gap in the seal. That made not a zot of difference.
By that stage Frank had run in and collected the fire extinguisher from under the sink. For some strange reason he ran into the next room to pull the pin out, by which time black smoke was pouring out of the stove and rolling up the walls. At about that moment I realised there was still a gas burner on, merrily cooking two chicken fillets. As I turned them off and began to wonder if this could turn into something very, very bad (do gas stoves and cylinders explode when fire is happening right by them?), Frank ran in, pointed the extinguisher at the base of the flame (ha... that is the correct technique of course, but who would know where he really pointed it) and sprayed.
Incredibly, the fire stopped instantly. Maybe I expected it would die back slowly and whimper a bit before going out, but it was over, just like that. Phew!
Being the blogging queen I am (OK, that was an embellishment), I immediately ran for my camera (strange, sad truth is contained in those words) and collected an image of the smoking mess for posterity:
I may also have invented a new technique in art:
Even with a relatively small fire the clean up was significant. We've vacuumed the dust, wiped smoke off walls and aired the house, but the smell still lingers and I keep finding tiny bits of ash on surfaces all over the place. I suspect the cleaning will continue for some time.
There was one other small issue - what to do with the chicken. I had my heart pretty well set on asian-style chicken, and that's hard to do without chicken. The slivered almonds and sesame seeds were lost. Could I get by without the chicken... and is it OK to eat food that has experienced a little, ah, dry powder extinguisher contamination?
We tried to phone the firies, but without resorting to 000 (which was now completely unnecessary, unless they offer a cleaning service, which I'm pretty sure they don't), no one would answer the phone outside of business hours. Next we called a friend of a friend who works as a fireman. No reply. Google 'what chemicals are in dry powder fire extinguishers': not very useful information. 'centrimax 70' was next and, bingo, most of the powders used in fire extinguishers are fairly innocuous. The powder used in ours was mostly likely mono ammonium phosphate, a fairly harmless chemical approved as a food additive. So we ate the chicken. As simple as that.
Perhaps I should call this post 'how not to cook tea'? One thing is for sure, I'll be getting that extinguisher refilled quick smart, buying a fire blanket just in case, and replacing the battery in the smoke detector. A little too close for comfort that one!
Labels: house fire