Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Great Chicago Fire

Perhaps you have heard of the great Chicago fire. Well, it almost happened again. The following phone conversation recently took place.

DOR (Daughter of Ralph): Dad!! The oven on the counter caught fire! What do I do?

I flashed back to my forest fire days and almost said, “Grab a shovel and build a line around it down to bare soil.” Then I realized that wouldn’t work very well in a second story apartment. I also ruled out starting a backfire by the sink and hoping the two would burn together.

Ralph: Call the fire department.
DOR: It’s inside the oven. Should I put water on it?
Ralph: What’s burning?
DOR: Crumbs in the crumb tray. Wait . . . . it might be going out.
Ralph: Don’t open the door. Wait until it goes out and cools down before you open the door. Remember the microwave?
DOR (after a little chuckle): Yeah, I remember. Okay it’s burning across the tray and is almost out.
Ralph: So, when was the last time you cleaned out the crumb tray?
DOR: It’s been awhile. Okay. . . .it’s out.

Now I don’t care who you are, putting out a fire a thousand miles away is hard work. Not to mention what it does to your heart rate and blood pressure.

Ralph: You know I’m going to have to blog about this, right?
DOR (after a long pause): Yeah, but only if you tell about the microwave.
Ralph (after a long pause): Okay.

Years ago, when the kids were young, I gave Char a microwave as a gift. Back then, it was state of the art but still covered most of the counter top. We used it a lot but it was especially useful on Monday nights when the family would gather to watch the television show, Alf. We would generally watch Alf while snacking on popcorn and ice cream. One evening, getting ready to watch Alf, I hurriedly placed a bag of popcorn in the microwave before running into the family room.

DOR was about five years old at the time and during a commercial, I asked her to go see if the popcorn was done. When she returned, I asked about the popcorn and in a calm and relaxed voice she said, “I don’t know. There’s too much smoke.”

Nothing can interrupt a good episode of Alf like a house fire. I ran into the kitchen and discovered DOR was right, there was too much smoke. The entire kitchen, the dining room, and part of the living room were filled with a dense black smoke. I had accidentally set the timer for thirty minutes instead of three – mistake one.

I yanked opened the microwave door only to realize that was not the thing to do – mistake two. The popcorn bag erupted into flames. I grabbed the bag and ran through the kitchen and living room with a flaming bag of popcorn – mistake three.

Outside I used my forest fire training and stomped the living @$%^* out of that popcorn bag.

We used that microwave for many more years and every time the aroma of burnt popcorn filled the room.


Blogger Cliff said...

Remote fire fighting takes some real talent Ralph.
You should probably write a manual on it and make it required reading for all fire dept's.

Your vast experience really shines when compared to average folks who might have mistakenly used baking soda.

10:49 AM  
Blogger bobbie said...

I did enjoy this one!
I am all too familiar with trying to deal with a crisis by long distance. It happened rather regularly when my youngest was in college. I enjoyed it so much when it happened around midnight too., which it often did. Nothing so terrifying as a fire though. More often boyfriend troubles or home-

2:35 PM  
Blogger Aravis said...

I loved the notion of a backfire from the sink! I don't live in a 2nd floor apartment; I live in a house. Would building a line around it work for me? *G*

That episode of Alf must have been really good if it distracted you from checking on the popcorn sooner! ;0)

4:53 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Well, I'm so glad that it was only in the crumb tray! I'll bet your heart rate did go up!

Funny story about the microwave popcorn. I've had it burn a little every now and then so I can only imagine how awful that was and how the smell lingered!

I loved to watch Alf and they have the reruns on now occasionally, which I am thankful for. I can hear him now saying, "Paper cut! Paper cut!! Willie!!!" LOL

7:02 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

We never had problems like that.
We did watch every Alf episode that came on but as poor folk back then that we didn't have a microwave.
Mrs. Jim made popcorn in a pan with oil in the bottom. She held it over the fire and shook it until the popping stopped.
That was the best popcorn, now I am not allowed to eat popcorn per my colonoscopy doctor.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Paul Nichols said...

Careful, careful, careful. I don't wanna tell you about my experience with a grease fire. But to make a long story short, it only took six weeks to heal. Thank God for Silvadene.

DOR, please be careful, careful, careful!

9:08 PM  
Blogger Cheyenne said...

OMG this post made me laugh my you-know-what off. Picturing you running with that bag of popcorn and then stomping the poop out of it. Too funny.

That sounds like my 10+ minute toast in the toaster oven. No fire, just a lot of nasty smoke. Both cats ran to the farthest part of the house they could find.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Peruby said...

When confronted with a fire, one really doesn't "think" much, they react. I would have done the same thing.This was too funny!

4:36 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Reminds me of a story about cooking Chicken Kiev's in a microwave, I'll post it one day.

3:26 AM  

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