August 11, 2010

Spontaneous Combustion

Did you know that fertilizer can spontaneously combust?

Neither did I.

But apparently it can! I know because this morning I woke up to a fireman running through the kitchen, screaming at us to get out of the house, and shooing us outside, still in our pajamas. And before I knew it I was standing in the middle of the street, watching smoke pouring out of the roof, thinking to myself,

"what the fuck just happened?!"

But obviously none of the firemen were in any mood to humor a group of laypeople and their questions, so we let ourselves be herded into a neighbor's house where we waited, clutching the coffee she offered us, hoping that nothing too horrible was happening to the house.

Luckily the emergency response was excellent. Really top notch. Starting with a neighbor two blocks upwind who smelled the smoke we couldn't even smell from inside the house, and ending with the dozen firemen and emergency vehicles they brought with them, the whole ordeal only took about an hour,and the fire was out before we even had a chance to really start worrying.

In the end, most of the damage was from the water they used to put out the fire, which was actually quite small. Nothing inside the house was really damaged (except for the water in the living room ceiling), and everyone got out safely, which is the most important thing.

We were really lucky that the fire didn't burst into flame until we were already awake, because if it had combusted even just a couple of hours before, the smoke could have started seeping into the house while we were still asleep, which could have been very very dangerous.

The firemen and arson people explained that there was a planter on the upstairs deck filled with peat and fertilizer, a combination which apparently traps and hold heat really well. So starting last night it had been heating up and smoldering, and this morning under the sun with a little gust of wind it spontaneously combusted and burst into flame.

I always thought spontaneous combustion was so unlikely it only happened in the labs of mad scientists.

Who knew it could happen on any deck on Long Island?

It was certainly an unbelievable and exciting (not in the good way) start to my week out here, but now I know that there's nothing better than almost burning down in a house together to really bond with people you've just met.

5 comments:

J. said...

How scary!! So glad everyone and everything is OK!

Belen said...

That's insane! But that's definitely a great response from everyone acting so quickly. I think a lot of my neighbors are too self-absorbed to really care about that's going on outside of their house. And with constant fires that just randomly happen on the hills in my city from heat, we all assume it's just that and that the firemen will take care of it. Next time I smell smoke, I swear I'll check to make sure it's none of my neighbors (and esp not my house!) Glad you all were okay!

Dorkys Ramos said...

Yipers, I would've been freaking out, too. Glad to hear you're safe.

Julia said...

Oh my gosh! That's scary...and exciting at the same time!

Bree said...

What a way to be welcomed to the city! Good thing everyone was fine in the end!