Fire!

A distraught friend called last night to tell me this tale.

During the Christmas season, she had been invited to go snowshoeing with her friends who live up Hollyburn Mountain near Vancouver. It was a gathering of friends, a party!

I remembered her fretting about how she could park there, it being so hilly where they lived, and whether or not she could get out again if she did go. It was a valid concern. We had experienced snow dumps of thirty centimeters for four of seven days in that week, and the snow was beginning to get damp and unmanageable. Besides, these friends of hers lived half way up the mountain near the snow line. Their snowfall would be even deeper.

Better judgement got in the way and she didn’t go. She stayed home, warm beside her gas fire, reading a book and sipping on a glass of Merlot.

“I just heard from Harley and Joan,” she said quite excitedly.’They’ve had a fire! It was the same day we were supposed to go snowshoeing. Do you remember?”

The party had gone ahead and they had had a great time. In the evening after everyone had left, Harley  had gone down to the basement to continue on with his home improvement project which included using contact cement to glue baseboard to finish off the meeting of wall and hardwood floor he had recently installed in the new family room.

As he was working, WHOOSH! the off-gassing solvents caught fire when the baseboard electrical heater turned on. A fireball leapt before him and he fled. There was absolutely nothing he could do to contain the fire that had erupted. All he could do was escape.

Within seconds, he was upstairs getting everyone out of the house, called the fire department, but in less than five minutes, the house was consumed. Everything was gone. Home based business. Household effects;identification papers and vital statistics; family history; photos; clothing. Everything. The fire department had difficulty in getting there because of the unusually deep snow. Even so, their response was nonetheless rapid; but by the time they arrived there was no house.

To every cloud there is a silver lining. Within such a short time space, everyone was out and alive. Only two of the seven inhabitants of the house. Two of these were home stay foreign students; three children and their parents.

Only two of them had shoes! In that bitter cold and icy snow. They took refuge in their car. How it happened that they actually had the keys to the car with them is miraculous.

Now, they are living in very temporary accommodations and will move to a rental house at the end of this week.

My friend was calling to see if I had some things I would like to give to them. Already, their close friends and neighbours had offered furniture from basement or attic that they hadn’t been able to part with but, in this instance, were happy for it to find a new home.

What they were missing was kitchen ware.

So today, I’m going to rummage in the basement and in my linen closet for things they might be able to use. In this corner of the world, we have so much, we don’t know what to do with it all. Surely, I can find a lot of things that will help them get started back up.

So, Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to work I go….

Just a cautionary note before I leave you, if you didn’t catch it clearly up above:

The solvents in glues are not only toxic to breathe but they are very volatile as well. Never use them in an area where there is heat or the chance of a spark. They act like bombs when the catch fire. Something as innocuous as an electrical, built in,  baseboard heater can provide the ignition for the fumes of a glue or a cleaning fluid containing solvents which is exposed to the air. So always, always, always ensure good ventilation and make sure the heaters are turned off so that they wont start up.

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