Monday, February 7, 2011

getting a new furnace

So, the furnace needs to be completely replaced.  Sometimes that happens when things catch on fire.  

We are very lucky though--the fire alarm woke us up before the rest of the house caught fire.  Also, since there is a furnace for each apartment, we have heat, hot water and a working stove in the downstairs apartment. We'll find out today when they can give us an appointment to replace the furnace, and in the meantime, we'll still be able to cook, bathe and sleep in comfort.  Things work out for the best. 

When my maternal grandmother was a kid, her house was struck by lightning, and if memory serves, I think it burned down.  For the rest of her life she was terrified of storms and would sit in her basement whenever there was thunder and lightning.  I feel kind of like her---I'm terrified of our house burning down.

A few years ago in our old house, I woke up at 2 am, smelling smoke.  My eyes flew open and saw a smoky haze in our bedroom, and red and yellow firetruck light reflections revolving on the ceiling.  It was one of those "OMG PANIC GET THE KIDS GET OUT NOW" moments.  As I ran to my son's room I could see out the side window that there was a fire either next door or the house next to that.  My brain finally caught up to my pounding heart, and I looked out the front window---there were firetrucks in the street, hosing down the house two doors down.  It wasn't our house.

That fire started because of an electric fireplace on the first floor that malfunctioned around midnight. The fire started around an electrical outlet and spread through the walls.  The teenage son of the family saw it catch fire, got the family out safely, but in less than 20 minutes the entire house went up in flames. The fire company spent most of their time hosing down the two houses next to them to keep them from catching fire, and both neighboring houses sustained melted plastic siding.  The family lost everything, even their cars.  The next day the site was condemned and was torn down, but the smell of burnt wood lingered for weeks. 

A year later, the house directly across the street caught fire, a week after the owner had finished remodeling it and had put it on the market.  A few weeks after that, a house at the end of the block burned down.  (I managed to live for 32 years without ever seeing or living near a house burning down, and then I live within a 100 feet of three houses that burn down in a year's time.  Odd, no?)  

Ever since our neighbor's house burned down, whenever I smell smoke--for whatever reason--someone has lit a match, a cigarette, is using their backyard chiminea, the toast is overdone, I am on high alert.  I run around sniffing till I figure out if my house is on fire.  A few months ago my mother in law forgot about dinner while she was on the computer, which you can read about here (see question #2).  That was like a scene out of the movie Backdraft; the smoke was unbelievable.  

My inlaws have a fireplace in their kitchen, which they use on a regular basis. Its a pleasure to sit in front of and warm up, especially when we come back from picking Greg up from school and we have a nice snack of tea and cookies.  However, I have been living on the knife-edge of paranoia for the past few months, as every morning I wake up to the smell of a wood fire.  I usually stick my head out the front window to make sure that the smoke is coming from their chimney and not billowing out the kitchen window.  Sometimes I call downstairs just to make sure that the fireplace is on and the toaster hasn't caught on fire.  

Waking up at 5 am to hear the fire alarm going off was frightening.  I think my heart stopped pounding around 9 am. But we were lucky.  I am so thankful that the fire alarm worked, that we were able to turn off the furnace without any injuries, and that we are all safe.  

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