Thursday, March 20, 2008

Close calls

I don't have any pictures to share for this one. You probably wouldn't want to see this anyway. I just have to take a moment to be grateful for fire/smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and my insitinctive ability to remain calm.
Yes, we had a fire... on the boat... in the middle of the night while we slept.
It seems some insulation around our furnace exhaust loosened and slipped away. The the heat from the exhaust gradually and unrelentingly (?) took hold of the wood panel mere inches away. In hindsight, it seems this process took several days. I recall having noticed an odor then dismissing it because it went away. I think it was the beginning of the smouldering.
The alarm went off at 12:30 am. My first groggy thought was "turn that thing off before it wakes C". Then Cos jumped up and quickly scanned the space heaters. Nothing there. He turned on a light and the beginnings of smoke could be seen curling down from the pilot house.
Without word or thought, Cos did what he had to do, and I did what I had to do. I grabbed C's swimming towel. It has a little hood. I wet the hood then quickly pulled the towel over her body with the hood on backwards. Then I scooped her up and out of the boat as quickly as possible. Once on deck, I heard as Cos pulled the pin from the extinguisher. It was just like that little metallic sound you hear in war movies when someone pulls the pin from a handgrenade. Then I heard the spray. It lasted a couple seconds then the 10 lb extinguisher was spent. Cos brought out the dog, then blankets, coats, shoes, and my purse. Then he went back in and made sure the fire would not reignite by pulling the furnace off its base and putting soaked towels over the still smouldering wood. We sat in the car and debated what should happen next. After about an hour had passed, Cos came back in to grab some of our smoky clothes. He reinstalled the batteries in the smoke detector and it stayed off. The fire was definitely out. Cos opened every window on the boat and we spent the weekend at the cottage doing laundry. Clothes, curtains, upholstery, stuffed animals... anything washable. Cos came down on Sunday to start the cleaning process. I joined him mid-week while C stayed at the cottage with my parents. We cleaned and painted just about everything. I'm not entirely sure, but I think the smell of smoke is gone. It's hard to know because once you get that smell in your nostrils, you notice it all the time. We have all been home for a week now. Not everything is completely done, but close. The place looks great. Better than ever. I will post pictures of the cleaned up boat as soon as I get totally organized.
As frightening as it was, I'm glad we were here. We both handled it well. I never felt that C or I were in danger at all. I was more concerned about Cos going back in time and again while the smoke was clearing. If this had happened while we were away, the boat likely would have sunk before anyone noticed it was on fire. The marina security guard drove past me twice while the smoke billowed out from our cover but he never seemed to notice. I should mention that this night-time guard is here temporarily to keep an eye out specifically for fire while work is being done on the sprinkler system in the marina. Hmmm.
As hectic and crazy as life gets... as much as we wish for calm... I believe God grants us that serentiy when we most need it. For me it was during the crisis and again now as I remain grateful for so many things in my life.

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