burning down the house

Got up this morning, fed the guinea pig, rabbit and dog. Bronwyn fed the cats. Did the dishes, got the kid dressed, and went for the front door.

Bronwyn reminded me that I hadn’t lit the fire yet.

So, I raked the remainging ashes in to the tray below the grate, put a small piece of firelighter on, lit it, added three sticks and a piece of scrap plank, then covered with coal, and headed for the front door.

Bronwyn asked me to clear out the ashes.

*sigh* – so, I opened the fireguard, and removed the tray. The tray was okay to the touch, so I carried it with bare hands out the back, and dumped it on the compost heap. Then I put the tray back, and headed for the front door.

Twenty minutes later, Bronwyn called me in a panic and said “The shed’s on fire!”. I replied, relaxed, “So put it out!”. She demanded that I get back, and said that it was my responsibility.

I turned around, and started the twenty minute walk back home, cursing what was probably just a few flames.

I got to the house just after two fire brigade trucks turned up. Both of the sheds had burned to the ground.

I was a bit dismayed, to say the least. Bronwyn was in shock. After the brigade had reduced the flames to barely a smoulder, I thanked them, sent an email to my landlord (it honestly didn’t occur to me to pick up the phone), and took Bronwyn to the doctor.

Later, while digging through the rubble, trying to bring some sense of order to the chaos, I found the bodies of the guinea pig and the rabbit. I removed them for later burial.

The dog had run straight into the house at first chance, but all the cats had run off. Beethoven (our white cat) turned up when the fire brigade were almost done, but the others were still missing hours later.

It’s now almost half five, and one of the missing cats just turned up, sans fur and whiskers, and limping on burned pads. I had to brush her hair for five-ten minutes just to get rid of most of the crusty burned hair.

I think there are two ways in which she could have gotten damaged. Either she was asleep in the shed and didn’t feel the heat until too late, or she had panicked and run for “safety”, under the shed.

This was my fault. I have accidentally killed at least two of Bronwyn’s pets, as well as seriously burning one other, and destroying property of the landlord. It’s embarassing to think how stupid the cause of this whole thing was – basically, an ember which I had not noticed, must have blown onto the first shed, setting off the bone-dry wood.

I think this will cost me a bit – I need to replace two sheds, a petrol lawnmower, a kerosene tank (which luckily wasn’t full at the time!), and some windows, which cracked in the heat. That was the landlord’s stuff.

Personally, I lost a load of magazines, including a fifteen year archive of Dragon magazine (including the special edition #200 with the hologram on the front cover). I also lost the Linux Format edition which mentioned the ILUG. Also, I lost all of my tools, some of which were quite expensive. Damn…

Let this be a lesson to you all – dispose of your ashes carefully!

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