Cider Press Hill

My very own smoke bomb

Friday, 4:57 pm

During the winter months, the last thing I do before I go to bed is load the stove, let it reach a high burn until the stove is about 800° on the surface, then close the damper and shut her down for the night. That way I get a slow, but healthy (clean) burn through the night with enough live coals in the morning to start a new fire without kindling. It also keeps the house warm enough so that icicles aren’t hanging off everyone’s nose in the morning. Last night was no different, except for one small thing.

Before I tend to the fire, I’ve already turned most of the lights out, so I’m doing this stove operation in semi-dark. I’ve been doing this for 8 or so years, so it’s automatic. Usually.

So, there I was all curled up in my bed, reading, when I started to smell smoke. Now, it wasn’t an alarming thing because the wind was blowing an absolute gale. Every now and again, the wind will catch the chimney just right and go straight down. That makes the stove belch a puff of smoke into the house. As I say, it happens rarely, but it’s annoying when it does happen. So, I didn’t think that much about it. Until, the smell of smoke started growing stronger.

I leaped myself right out of bed and when I hit the hallway, the smell of smoke was intense. Oh boy, this can’t be good, I muttered.

By the time I’d reached the bottom of the stairs and pulled back the quilt, I knew it wasn’t good. The downstairs was choked with thick smoke. And I saw a glowing red thing on the top of the stove. I grabbed my stove gloves and carried that red glowing thing, that was smoking like mad, and drowned it in the kitchen sink. Turned out to be a small wood chip not any larger than half the length and width of a dainty pinky finger. But man did it pour off smoke.

I opened the back door, the front door, the front windows, the kitchen window and turned the over head fan on high speed. And sat in the living room shivering until the smoke had cleared out. It took about 20 minutes although I kept the windows and doors open for a couple of hours. And I was sitting there feeling furious with myself. For one thing I just had the ceilings painted. A house full of smoke is not a good thing, although I did manage to get rid of it fairly quickly.

I realized that the one thing I didn’t do before I went to bed was put my work gloves on and sweep my hands across the top of the stove to make sure there were no wood bits sitting there. Since most of the lights are off, I just do this by feel and by rote. I ALWAYS do it. I have no idea why I didn’t last night, but I guarantee that I won’t forget again.

I was pretty sure that I’d scared the living daylights out of my neighbor, too. I’m sure some of that smoke must have filtered next door. She retires very early and I heard her thumping around as I was clearing smoke out of the house. I am surprised she didn’t come over to bang on the door. This morning when I went outside, she popped her head out of her door and wondered if everything was okay. I told her what happened and she was relieved. She said she’d thought about coming over, but when she went out on her porch, she saw my windows and door open and heard me stomping around. I was stomping, too. I hope she didn’t hear me say anything too scandalous.

I was surprised this morning that the house didn’t smell horrible. I went out and ran a number of errands and when I walked back into the house, it smelled fine. But I’m sure the ceilings took a hit. Not much I can do about it now, though. That’s what bothered me the most, I guess.

Posted by Kate on 02/1309 at 04:57 PM

And um, I think we need to check the smoke alarms!!! Why didn’t they go off? Glad it didn’t do any damage smoke wise. I think the ceilings should be ok. I think it would take several of those to yellow it.

Posted by justme on 02/13  at  07:36 PM

I checked the smoke alarms. The one in the basement and the one upstairs work. The one downstairs is not working. It obviously sent no signal to the other two. They are all hardwired, so I don’t know where the problem is. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. :::sigh:::

Posted by Kate on 02/13  at  08:50 PM

Well that sounds scary!  I agree about the smoke alarms!  I loved it when there were some nice coals left in the am so I didnt have to try and relight a fire.

Posted by annie on 02/16  at  02:40 PM

About this time of year, I run out of kindling and have to buy it, so having live coals left over in the morning is very nice. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any left this morning. Didn’t make a hot enough fire last night because it was too hot in here. Kindling is made for just such occasions. Maybe it was a sign that winter is giving up its iron grip. One could hope… smile

Posted by Kate on 02/17  at  05:53 PM