A Day In The Life

I moved back to Arkansas in 1990 after having live…
November 10, 2006, 12:57 am
Filed under: Family

I moved back to Arkansas in 1990 after having lived in several different states during the previous fourteen years. The little house I ended up buying had a wood stove. My parents had a wood stove in the house I grew up in so I wasn’t totally unfamiliar with wood heating. I also had a wood stove in a cute apartment that I rented when I lived in Boulder, Colorado. The stove in Boulder wasn’t my primary source of heat. It was mainly an ambiance-type thing that my landlady had added to the apartment so she could charge more rent.

See the wood stove behind the rocking chair? Ambiance. By the way, that cute kitten is Muffin, my Colorado kitty. She lived for 21 years, but I am digressing from my story…..

So I had a wood stove in my house in 1990 and I felt sufficiently experienced to handle wood heating. One day I came home from school, stoked up a fire in my stove, added some wood, closed the stove door and went outside to play with my dogs in the backyard. I don’t know how long I was outside, but eventually I became aware of a funny noise emanating from my house. It finally dawned on me that I was hearing the smoke alarm. (Sound familiar, Karmyn?!!) I rushed in the back door to find my house filled with smoke. My carpet behind the stove was smouldering and flames were licking up the outside of the stove pipe toward the ceiling. Aaaiiiieeeee!!! We didn’t have county-wide 911 service at the time so I had to call the county sheriff’s office. I was so freaked out that I forgot to tell them my address. I did remember to give my name to the dispatcher and, luckily, I live in a small town where everybody knows everybody so when the dispatcher contacted the rural fire department, the volunteer firemen knew exactly where to come. In the meantime, I had called my parents who live a little over two miles from me. It seemed I had just barely hung up the phone when my parents’ truck flew down my driveway and slammed to a halt outside. My dad leapt from the truck, fire extinguisher in hand, and hit my front door at a gallop. He had that fire extinguisher spraying the minute he entered my house. ( The wood stove was all the way across the room from my front door. ) The rural fire department arrived a few minutes later. Of course, Dad had totally put out the fire, but the firemen checked out my attic and the roof and made sure my house was secure.

The firemen left. Mom, Dad and I were left standing in my livingroom staring at the trail of fire extinguisher contents leading from my front door, across furniture and across the floor to my wood stove. We started laughing. We laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. It was the laughter of relief, but it was also laughter at my dad’s mad dash and heroic squirting of fire extinguisher goop all over my livingroom. To this day I remember the vision of Dad and his fire extinguisher. I hear the Indiana Jone’s theme in my mind as Dad, the hero, saved the day.

My mom, ever the pragmatist, said, “Why didn’t you just throw a bucket of water on that fire and put it out?” As those words echoed in my livingroom, I realized a wood stove was not for me. I never once thought of putting the fire out with water. Duh……

I sold my wood stove and started using gas for heat. A couple of months later I received a lovely red fire extinguisher as a Christmas gift. It was from Dad……just in case.


11 Comments so far
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I would love a wood stove!! However, considering I will probably move back to FL, I probably won’t need one…

Comment by Anonymous

I don’t know what I’d do without my wood stove (technically a slow combustion heater).

Comment by Willowtree

That looks like a free standing fireplace ??? WE had a white one, which we replaced with the one that you see behind the kitty on my ironing board. Oh how we love it.

Glass front, so we can enjoy it like a fireplace. But it burns long and slow.

And boy was it great when the electricity went out.

Comment by Anonymous

Songbird…Great eclectic picture.
So glad you were finally able to locate me…I would never think you were snooty…

Comment by swampwitch

Birddog has been wanting to tear out our fireplace and put in a wood stove for a better source of heat. . .

I remember those stoves like you had in your apartment. . .I had some friends that lived in a trailer house and they had one. . .

LOL – I could just picture the scene of your parents showing up. . .LOL – I busted a gut just reading about it. . .

Comment by Anonymous

OH I love the story. We heat with a wood stove and I really don’t like it. Wood chips in the carpet, our clothes smell like we are smoking meat, you can never been too lazy to put wood on the fire or you’ll be freezing in the morning. However, my hsuband does most of the work with it. I only do it when he’s gone hunting.. wait a minute. That’s most of the winter. .. hmm

Your Dad saving the day is wonderful! I can see it in my head. Charge !!!!!

Comment by Vicki

What a great story! You gotta love hero dad! Too sweet. Thanks for smiles!

Comment by Grim Reality Girl

Wow – you have an awesome dad!! He’s my hero for the day…

and your woodstove story is way scarier than mine. Fortunately, my woodstove is surrounded by brick. It only burns things up when some idiot (moi) leaves things on top of it.

Comment by Karmyn R

What a great story…and even a greater dad! Aren’t they wonderful that way? And there sure is a lot to be said for living in a small enough place where there is real “community”. I also find it interesting how our minds work in crisis – I don’t know that I would have thought of a bucket of water either!

Comment by gawilli

We had a fire in our house from a wood stove which completely torched the attic and caused us to live with my mother for five months while they fixed the damage. I used to love the ambiance of wood burning devices, now gas is my preference.

Fire is scary.

Comment by Angelina

What another GREAT story! If you don’t start writing a book soon, I’ll be very disappointed! I saw just the same “fireplace” in your photo recently in a thrift store. It was a Burnt Orange color and SO reminded me of 60’s chic and all you would have needed was 3″ shag carpeting and some beanbag chairs.
The fire thing can be very scary, and when I lived in FLA, shared an old stucco house with a roommate while going to college. While it had an oil furnace, we never had the money to fill it, and just used the fireplace. Luckily for us, the owners had a dangerously large Austrialian Pine taken down in the summer, in our backyard. We told the tree service guys to just cut it into 3′ lengths and leave it, which made them very happy not to have to haul it away. This thing was so big, we had enough firewood for the whole winter.
One night in Jan or Feb about 3 in the morning we were awaken by what sound like a 747 landing on the house. We ran outside only to see a 25 foot “Roman candle” sending sparks into the air out our chimney! Disney couldn’t have created a more breathtaking effect! It was a chimney fire, which neither of us had ever experienced. We put a piece of plywood over the openning to the fireplace, which cut off the air supply and it finally just died out. The hearth had a bunch of bricks that had fallen in, and we checked the attic to see if it had caught fire, which it hadn’t. Sorry this was so long, but your story “ignited” this old memory. Again, please start “cutting and pasting” all these blogs somewhere for that book! You are truly a gifted writer!

Comment by Anonymous

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