We had a fire in our chimney tonight.
I started a nice warm fire in the fireplace as usual and then went into my office to play a few minutes of Dwarf Fortress while I waited for my wife to finish what she was doing so we could play UpWords.
When I went back to check the fire I could here an incredible “whooshing” sound in the fireplace.
“This is not ok.” I thought.
I screamed to my wife to get the kids out of their beds and out of the house which she did while I looked outside. There were flames shooting out of the chimney.
I ran back inside as my wife was hustling the kids outside and I called 911.
“I have a chimney fire and I need a fire truck!” I said to the 911 operator.
“What township?” he asked.
I told him and he said “ok sir, stay on the line. What’s your address? Stay on the line.”
I told him and he said “stay on the line. What’s your name? Stay on the line.”
I told him and he said they were sending the fire company.
I then rushed and got my keys, iPhone, and wallet, then headed for our fire extinguisher and used it to put out the fire in the fireplace in hopes that it would somehow reduce the heat fueling the chimney fire.
Then I moved my car out of the garage and yelled for my wife to get the van out. I then ran back inside and turned out an outdoor hose valve to see if I could try to train a hose upwards or something.
The hose was frozen though so I gave up. A passing motorist had gotten out of his car and gave everything the once over. “It will be fine…they’ll have that out in no time,” he said as he headed off.
The fire company arrived about two minutes later. I was pretty surprised. They immediately got to work and first a second, then a third, then a fourth fire truck arrived.
There were firemen everywhere, pulling out hoses, putting up ladders, going into the house, coming out of the house. It was a mob scene of three fire companies.
There was a lot of me walking back and forth, asking if things were going to be ok, talking to the neighbors, explaining the obvious, getting offers of a spare bedroom, etc.
Finally, the fire marshall brought me inside explained that they had run some chains down the chimney to knock loose any potential debris that could be in there, determined that there wasn’t, then shot some extinguising agent up the chimney, and that was why there’s a fine coating of dust over our entire living room.
Here’s the moral of the story.
Get your fireplace inspected/cleaned every year. You can’t let it go. We had it inspected about two/three years ago by a chimney sweep and he said, you don’t need to get it looked at again for another couple of years and I listened to that advice. Don’t make the same mistake.
We’re back in the house, everything is fine. The kids are asleep in their beds, and the only effect is that the living room looks like it’s been left undisturbed for 100 years with dust covering everything.
It also turns out that the first fire company was having a training exercise tonight. They were all literally standing in the fire station in their gear. The second fire company was having their monthly meeting. I don’t know about the third company but they arrived pretty darn quick too.
What I really want to know is why the 911 operator kept telling me to stay on the line. :)