We are very grateful to have our house tonight. We had a chimney fire tonight, and it always give us pause.
We have had them before. We burn LOTS of wood. LOTS. We burn those chimney sweep logs too. They help. But when you burn as much wood as we do, and have a 100 yr old house with a very old chimney, the chimney fires are inevitable.
So here is the routine:
We hear the sound of a locomotive…. Steve in living room, me in kitchen. We both yell “CHIMNEY FIRE!!” in unison. Steve closed the fireplace screens, and put a little water on the fire to help it not burn quite so hot. I shut the fire door between south end of old part of house and addition that was old studio (soon to be bedroom… Steve almost took that door off today for part of a remodeling job) Steve shut the fire door between new studio and breezeway, and other fire doors between breezeway and north end of old part of house. I ran to get meds, dropped them in purse, grabbed cell phone and camera, closed another bedroom and bathroom door while Steve ran upstairs to close that bedroom door.
We both grabbed coats, slid into boots and ran out back door. Steve also snuck back in quickly to unlock all the doors.
I stood outside for an hour and a half. Steve went in twice in the first half hour… till I wouldnt let him anymore. The second time, he opened the door blinds so he could see in to the fireplace from the breezeway.
This is the longest a chimney fire has ever taken to burn itself out. Luckily it was 25 degrees instead of 20 below. During the time it was burning, a neighbor drove up the driveway and asked me….. as I stood in the dark in hat, coat, boots, gloves, and PAJAMAS…. if I knew my chimney was on fire. I sure do, but I am SO glad you stopped to tell us. If we hadn’t been home, or hadn’t come to the door, I hope you would have called 911. He would have, for sure. Living in a rural area has the benefit of neighbors taking care of each other!
So….. I hear you wondering what a chimney fire looks like.
When I first went out:
And this is what it looked like from the road…. what my neighbors saw when the drove by:
This is what it looked like the second time Steve went in and I freaked! I have never seen it look like this before. (this photo kind of scared Steve I think)
The fire burns from the top, down and often waxes and wanes…. Of course, all we can see is the top of the chimney, outside.
My job is to:
1. breathe the air outside so my asthma doesn’t kick in from the smoke.
2. watch to make sure no big blobs of fire catch the roof on fire. (which means call 911 if the roof catches fire) Other years, Steve has had to take water buckets to the roof, up a ladder. Thankfully, not tonight.
These big balls of fire scare the crap outa me. I watched it roll down the roof through 4 inches of snow. Kind of like a fire snowball that put itself out in the snow.
And these last two are what it looks like when we know it is just about out.
So the doors and windows in the old part of the house and the old studio are all open, still airing out. (The double set of fire doors between old part of house and new studio keep ALL smoke out of there.) I will be doing laundry for DAYS. Eight quilts in the living room reek of wood smoke, I am sure. Two big laundry baskets of what WERE clean clothes will need to be washed again. And towels and linens… and coats and jackets that hang on hooks by the back door.
But I am not complaining. I am SO GRATEFUL that we have each other, have heat, and a HOME. Food to cook, a sound roof that didn’t catch fire, a tame fire burning in the fireplace again, and good neighbors to check on us. Really, who could ask for more?
Laundry is a snap. We are blessed.