Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Smell Smoke

I'm a bit of a weather watcher, so I have the Weather Channel app on my iPhone. The thing I like the most about it is that it shows the local radar. That way, if I'm out and the sky starts looking dark, I can check and see if it's going to be a sprinkle or a downpour. It really comes in handy.

One thing about the app is it shows all of the weather warnings for the area. Sometimes, there will be up to seven or eight warnings. They cover everything from fog, to frost, to thunderstorms, to bad air quality. Many of the warnings are redundant because the same warning is issued for overlapping areas. It's very handy, but can be a bit much.

My favorite warning, which I first saw this spring, is the Fire Weather warning. Fire Weather? Really? I can see this being useful in the New Jersey Pine Barrens where forest fires are common, but I've never heard of a forest fire in the Philly suburbs. I'm not saying they shouldn't post these warnings, but I'm not losing any sleep over them either.

A wonderful mass of cool dry air has overtaken the region this week and it is glorious. Yesterday had brilliant blue skies, it never even reached 80, and there was a cool breeze blowing. When I checked the Weather Channel app, sure enough, it was Fire Weather. Noted, and promptly forgotten.

Andy and Michael were outside when I got home yesterday, so we stayed outside for a little while and played dinosaur bowling. Every so often, I'd get a whiff of smoke. Not cigarette smoke, wood smoke. Odd. So odd that I even mentioned it to Andy. I looked around a bit, but didn't see any smoke, so I figured it must not be too close and went about my business.

After dinner, Michael and I went back outside. When J and C came home, we went over to greet them. J's mom asked me to keep an eye on the boys while she ran all of their gear in.

She got to her steps and yelled, "OH MY GOD JOANNA!"

She's normally very chill, so I was very surprised to hear her yell. She called me up, and this is what I saw.


The mulch outside her front door was smoldering and part of the fire wall was burnt and the drain pipe was melted through.

I said, "Oh my god!"

Michael and J walked up and said, "Oh my god!" What cute little mimics they are.

J's mom got a big bowl of water while I kept the boys away. She dumped the water on the fire and it did almost nothing. So she got another, and another, and another. There were no flames, but that sure was one hot little fire.

Soon M and her dad got home, and he came over to see what all the fuss was about. Poor J's mom was so upset I thought she was going to hyperventilate. Then, another neighbor came out to see what was going on. What an interesting situation for meeting new neighbors. The men held a conference and decided to advise J's mom to call the fire department to make sure that there was nothing smoldering in the underground drain pipe that was involved in the burning.

I continued to wrangle the kids. I felt a little like the red cross as each child decided he or she was thirsty. I made a number of trips into my house to fetch take and toss cups of milk for everyone. By this time, M's mom was also home, so we had a whole band of people out when this showed up.


Sirens and all. In the end, two fire engines, the fire chief and a police woman showed up. You would think the kids would have been excited when a big red fire truck pulled in with lights flashing and siren screaming, but no. They didn't seem all that interested.


Notice that Michael doesn't seem the least bit interested in the fireman with the extinguisher right next to him.

Then again, that's the fire chief sitting on the steps with a garden hose. He wasn't all that worked up either.

To be honest, I think the most exciting thing about it all was when a few of the men got a look at the young woman on the left in the above picture. I didn't get any face shots of her, but she was the most attractive fire woman I've ever seen.

Over all, it was a very minor incident. No one was hurt, very little damage was done, and we now have great material for neighborhood jokes.

I do feel very bad for J's mom and I understand why she was so close to a panic attack. She's an occasional smoker. She often sits on her front steps and has a smoke in the evening. It's pretty obvious that it was a hot ash from her that started the smoldering. If that's not bad enough, the last time she had smoked was the previous evening. That fire was smoldering all night long. It was only inches from the wooden front steps when she found it, but can you just imagine if it had moved that way to begin with? A fire could have started while they were sleeping. If it had, it would have been directly under the boys' bedrooms. Only luck prevented something much more serious happening. Can you imagine the horrible scenarios that were running through her mind the entire time?

I guess there are two morals to this story. One, smoking is dangerous, even when you are being very careful. And two, don't laugh at Fire Weather warnings.


Beth said...

Such excitement for a Wednesday night! Glad it wasn't serious. And I can't believe the kids weren't wowed by the firetrucks and firefighters. Go figure!

As for the weather, pure bliss! Enjoy. :-)

LauraC said...

I can't believe you didn't give us a single hint last night on twitter!

And seriously why is someone smoking and putting the butts into MULCH?

Karen said...

Glad that no one was hurt. We have been having so much rain here for the past few days, thankfully.

London said...

Holy crap, that's insane!

Heidi O said...

Thanks. Wow how exciting.

Julie said...

Dude, that is quite a story! I can't believe the kids didn't care about the firefighters?! Glad all turned out well though.