Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Good news, bad news, good news...

The good news is nobody got hurt and the house didn't burn down.

The bad news is my clothes dryer caught fire last week and burned up, along with most of the clothes that were in it at the time.

The good news is that we're in the middle of converting a larger, useless room into a new laundry room, and we'd already bought the replacement dryer (a discontinued floor model for only $75).

The bad news is that it's a gas dryer and the line hasn't yet been run from the propane tank to the dryer's new location nor have we bought the kit to convert it from natural gas to propane.

The good news is my retractable indoor clothesline was delivered today and #1 Son installed it for me.

Well, this could probably go on forever.  Instead let me just tell you the story.

Friday afternoon I was sitting at the computer with my two youngest girls in the room next to the kitchen when I started smelling smoke.  It didn't really register at first because we burn our paper trash and one of the boys might have been out doing that, but eventually I realized it didn't smell quite right.  Then I looked up and saw smoke blowing past the kitchen window.  Now, the place where we burn trash is way out behind the house on the other side of the detached garage. Smoke from the trash normally doesn't blow this way, and it if was there must be some strange weather thing going on, so I casually got up to investigate.

Going into the kitchen and looking out the window I could see that the smoke wasn't coming from away past the garage as it should be -- it seemed like it was originating right near the house.  I looked at the door to the laundry room and saw a little smoke through its window, so I opened the door and looked into the room.  There was a thin stream of smoke leaking from the joint where the dryer vents outdoors, right near the kitchen window.

I quickly opened and shut the dryer door.  This is known among firefighters as "ventilating the fire" and is a major no-no, but I wasn't thinking of that, and it is the quickest way to turn the dryer off, and I figured it was probably a problem with the wiring.  It didn't occur to me that I might get electrocuted, touching that thing, but then, my strength during a real emergency is calmness of demeanor, not clarity of thought, as you have probably figured out by now.

During the second it was open I saw flames inside.  My fifteen year old daughter, who had followed me in there, later said she could see that the drum wasn't tumbling.  It's nearly as old as she is and had been acting up lately and apparently could no longer handle a full load.

I figured that just turning off the dryer would stop whatever had caused the fire in the first place and the flames would die down right away, so I wasn't at all worried.  But just to keep him in the loop, I wandered into my twenty-three year old son's room (the son who's a volunteer firefighter) and told him what had just happened.

The word  fire had barely left my mouth when he charged out of the room, ran to the closet where we keep the fire extinguisher, and back to the laundry room, which was now completely filled with smoke.

Turns out the door hadn't actually shut when I slammed it, so the fire was getting plenty of air and was burning even more merrily.

#1 Son unloaded the fire extinguisher into the dryer, unplugged it, and opened the window in the room. 

Then he -- and I don't know how he did this, but he hauled the dryer out onto the porch to keep any more smoke from coming into the house.

It's so nice having grown-up children at home.


  1. Oh my goodness! I'm thankful that you are all safe and well with a replacement dryer already in the wings.


  2. So...I'm just now reading this and I am SO GLAD you are all okay!

    Handy, having that son of yours. :)

  3. WOW. Crazy. And this is why I never run the dryer when we are not home.......

    I was tempted today......but decided not to.....thanks for the validation. ;)

    Glad you are all safe!


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