Uh Oh


Police came too….

What started as an innocent burning of some papers in the dining room fireplace (rather than shredding them), turned into a screaming screeching multi-smoke alarm howl like you’ve never heard – three smoke alarms went off – two upstairs and one downstairs…the alarm panel said Fire Second Floor!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I knew that the alarm system would call me to make sure it wasn’t a false alarm but when they did call, they said the line was busy so their first option is to dispatch the Fire Department. I’m equidistant to the Banksville FD as I am to Bedford FD but Banksville came today, none of whom I know like I know the men (and women) at the Bedford FD. The alarm company did reach me on the second try, I told them I was fine, they said the FD does not cancel calls for fire alarms, that they were on their way.

I tried to disarm the screeching alarm panel, with the phone in one hand, then racing upstairs to see if there was indeed a fire….it was FULL of smoke. Pretty thick smoke.

There’s a fireplace in a guest bedroom upstairs and the flue was partially open. Because there’s ZERO breeze today, there wasn’t enough draft to take the papers burning downstairs up the chimney. Hence, smoke, and alarm.

With no one living or using upstairs, I didn’t have the a/c on to move the smoke around, which maybe was a good thing? I opened as many windows as I could, then I could hear the FD trucks racing up the hill.

The FD stayed a good long time, did some thermal imaging in the walls to make sure the walls weren’t hot…. and they closed the flue.

All is well. The smoke is dissipating. My nerves are calm(er) and it’s after 5pm so I can have a drink! Phew. My tax dollars done good today – thanks Banksville FD!

Ya know, one final thought – none of my neighbors called me to see if I’m alright. Huh.


44 thoughts on “Uh Oh

    1. I wish. You’ve OBVIOUSLY never met or seen the Banksville firemen. The average age of the men who came today was 65+, several with pretty big beer bellies too. All great men though – and all volunteer like Bedford’s department, so I can’t complain. They were here quickly.

      Now, the policeman, he was hunky. Got a book jacket cover for that?

        1. WHAT A CAR!!!!!!!! I wouldn’t care one hoot if a bird pooped on me if I had a chance to take that for a spin. Drool.
          I saw in passing that car got a big selling price at an auction last week? Bonhams? Not sure. Do you know.

        2. a quick internet search didn’t pick up anything significant. but a similar car to this sold for $39m-ish in 2014, so this $60m valuation for Le Mans winner could be correct.

        3. Gee, that is just stunning. So simple in its beauty. Bargain price too. Fingers crossed if I don’t win tonight’s lottery, you do and can buy a whole garage of new toys!

        4. The McLaren F1 just sold at Bonham’s auction is/was Herb Chambers’ ride. One of many amazing vehicles in his collection.

        5. I thought I knew that car. Herb is a regular on the show Chasing Classic Cars, good friends with Wayne Carini. I believe the McLaren was featured in an episode. Often Wayne accompanies Herb in Herb’s private jet to car shop. I know that’s how I shop for cars. You too?

  1. Glad all ended well. We’ve had an actual fire, started in the attic and spread very quickly from all the stuff stored up there. It scared us to death because we were home and had to decide quickly what to take out of the house, important papers, baby books, photographs, wallets, phones, not sure how much of the house would burn. My heart races reading your saga.

    1. Fire is scary. Period. You see how quickly it can spread and the damage it causes. I think we all ponder the what to do mental checklist in an emergency. I’d grab what you did. Baby books. Photos. Pocketbook.
      Hope your insurance was quick with a check to repair all.

  2. In my old Boston house I had to use 2 fireplaces for one to draw properly. In 35 years there were fireplaces I never got around to using. After a while I stopped using any of them, mainly because of my fear that wood ticks might end up on my dogs.
    Speaking of ticks, please, please, please be careful. Mr S contracted babesiosis (look it up) and with only a ‘mild’ case spent 6 days in the hospital. Same ticks carry Lyme disease and he had that as well.
    RI is a hot bed for tick borne illnesses.
    Back to subject at hand- glad all worked out safely for you. But, scary nonetheless.

    1. This house has THREE fireplaces on one chimney – the front foyer, the dining room and the guest room upstairs. I have them cleaned religiously for safety and for ticks and other critters. The dining room FP is our default – for keeping the home fires burning, but not literally!

      Six days in the hospital? Oh my goodness. What were they worried about? Fever? Dehydration? I have heard horror stories of babesiosis but thankfully no one I know (other than your hubby now) has contracted this strain. Is he okay now? Worried about any long term effects?

      1. Babesiosis is similar to malaria and gets into the blood. The scary part is half those infected show no symptoms and can unwittingly donate blood. Tick bites and blood transfusions are the two ways to get the disease. The good news is that it’s treatable.
        Recovery takes weeks if not months. He was in great shape and health before this hit so the prognosis is excellent. Not quite back to full strength yet but progressing nicely.
        We’re fortunate that the medical community here is very familiar with Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses and provides quick diagnosis and treatment. Many are not so lucky.

        1. Wow. I knew it was a pernicious strain of Lyme but not that deadly. One of my oldest friends (now deceased) worked in Africa when she was in her twenties. She contracted Dengue fever. Yikes. My mother got a terrible infection from a bug that bite her while vacationing along the Amazon in Brazil. Took months to cure.

    1. It wasn’t a fire per se. I just tossed and lit a few papers in the fireplace. It barely burned for three minutes. No logs. No kindling. Nothing but papers. I do it all the time but today it just smoldered. There wasn’t any smoke or smell downstairs so it took me totally by surprise when the alarm went off. I didn’t expect smoke upstairs.
      On most days, I think of myself as a normal person. I guess not today, at least in your mind.

  3. Make a note to self and order a shredder from Staples. I use mine all the time. Glad everything turned out okay.

    1. I have TWO shredders. One right under my office desk. I do use it 90% of the time. Sometimes I use the fireplace. Today was not a good day to make that choice. Oh well.

  4. Not sure about the neighbor thing. When (as a neighbor) you see that, you don’t want to bother the person because bigger things are at hand. Maybe tomorrow?

    1. My next door neighbor and I are really good friends. Our kids are similar ages, grew up together, one daughter was in her younger daughter’s wedding. They have a spare key. I have to assume they are away (which they often are this time of year) because no way they’d not want to bother. She’s southern, a real charmer, and would be the first to help if anything went wrong. The last two weeks of August the world vacations. So I’ll try not to read too much into the lack of concern. But next pot luck street supper, maybe I’ll bring something inedible. 😳

  5. Babesiosis is not Lyme disease even though the same tick can carry both. Nasty critters those ticks.

  6. I’m always thinking that I should put together a “go bag” of important things I should grab if there was a fire in the house. Documents, social security card, valuable momentos, pocketbook, etc. Cat carriers are easily accessible (not that the actual cat will be easily accessible….) and other important things in one place, ready to grab if need be. If you had 5 minutes to get everything you wanted to save, what would you take?

    1. Less documents and more personal treasures. Photos especially. One of a kind things homemade by kids. Pressed roses. Everything else is replaceable. I’m counting on never needing to have such a dire need.
      No one won last nights PowerBall so at least I don’t have to worry about a winning lottery ticket being burned.

  7. Late to this discussion. Glad you and the house are fine.

    Why was the line busy when the alarm company called? Were you trying to call them?

    1. Good question. I put the phone in my hand first thing, before walking to the panel, because I know the routine. The alarm central center calls first. I looked down at the phone screen and it said “Line In Use” so I thought maybe I didn’t hear it ring because of the three alarms howl so I pressed talk and all I heard was a beeping – not like a fax line noise, but similar.

      When the system got to me on a second try I asked what took her so long to call and that’s when she said the first try was busy. I explained to her what I heard and she said it was likely that because their system got several fire alarm notifications (since three separate fire alarms went off), the house phone was “dialing” the system to alert three different times.

      It’s a double edged sword having a hard-wired alarm system – good in that I wouldn’t have know the upstairs was filled with smoke otherwise, until it wafted downstairs, and bad because it’s so complicated. I mean I couldn’t even speak to the alarm agent until she had my password, then she made me confirm three times my name. For god sake, if it were a fire, why waste time asking me such stupid things. I liked the old days of calling 911 myself.

      Chubb is pretty demanding of having a hard-wired alarm system.

      1. Makes sense. We have a hard-wired system too. I doubt there’s a town code or insurance company today not requiring it. I imagine people install it to get a cert of occupancy then cancel the subscription to the service. It’s not inexpensive.

      2. I’ve had the same Chubb household insurance policy for over 30 years, and they’ve never said anything about that to me. Maybe I’m grandfathered in?

        1. Huh. Chubb was really strict with us but maybe it is all to do with how far I am from a fire department. No fire hydrants anywhere either. Perhaps that’s the difference?

        2. I live just south of the North St Merritt exit, and, until they put a fire station there, my closest FD was Banksville. But there is a hydrant on the property next door to me, so maybe that’s it.

          We can hear the Banksville FD’s horn here in the distance, but for many years we couldn’t figure out what it was. It sounded kind of like a train horn. Then after a decade or two of such speculations, I happened to be up at the Banksville plaza when the thing went off, and finally the light dawned.

        3. I’m sure that’s the difference. Also, when we had a swimming pool, there was some water that could be siphoned if the water truck couldn’t get here quickly. Without a pool anymore, the water truck comes automatically with the hook and ladder. They were both here yesterday.
          I hear both Bedford and Banksville sirens and I know what number of blasts means what. It’s like Morse Code so volunteers know which crew needs to respond. EMT, Ambulance, or Fire.

  8. Yikes! Scary. I won’t let hubby burn stray things in the fireplace. He would burn all papers if I let him. Remember my wilderness family years? We had a chimney fire one year and it was scary! Despite being 20 miles from nowhere, it was contained to the chimney. I don’t recall if any masonary repairs were needed. But I received a hands on education about creosote after that. So only newspaper, dry wood and fat wood in our fireplace. I would leave out the newspaper even, as we have a natural gas fed starter, so it all gets torched until going anyhow. Hubby still sticks wet wood in there sometimes, though. 🙄

    How about a fire proof safe in the house for photos and documents? My parents always had one, but hubby doesn’t want to spend the $$. ..

    Ticks are the worst! I had Lyme in 2010 in Sweden, and its no joke. I’m not sure one can ever be 100% sure you are Lyme free.

    1. I am religious about having the chimneys cleaned twice a year for fear of chimney fires. Had one in RI once, a giant backdraft. You are right, scary. One Christmas in our first Bedford house, someone threw an old strand of bough into the FP. Not me. I think it was a guest. The fire whooshed out of the fireplace. Whooshed very quickly.
      Creosote is no laughing matter. When I lived on Chappaquiddick, lots of people burned soft woods like pine, awful awful choice. I never did, I knew better.
      I know I shouldn’t burn papers. It’s sometimes just much easier than shredding, especially if I have a small Amazon box to burn.
      Knock on wood. I have only had Lyme once, back in the late 1980s. I don’t feel I’ve suffered any adverse problems since but I seem to be in the minority. As Swanton said, her husband got something worse. I think I’ll stay inside forever.
      Has the Latin contest happened? Any astronomy classes before tomorrow nights eclipse?

      When we renovated the downstairs we really wanted to bury a safe under the floor or hidden behind a closet. My recollection is it was $10k. Since I don’t have anything worth $10k to hide in it, we didn’t do it.

      1. Well… the Latin contest is semester long. We turned in homework today and he is up 4 points on me!😳 We have been chatting about the eclipse, but they will be viewing it from camp on Long Island tomorrow. Mostly I warned about safety and gave a brief overview

  9. Oh and my parents fire proof box was just a small, portable (heavy!!) box. Sort of like a small file cabinet, sitting on the closet floor. Just in case.

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