How did I get to be almost 55 years old and never light a fire in a fireplace by myself? After almost catching myself on fire, I now kind of know the answer to that question.
Sunday was a cold, rainy afternoon in Southern California – a rarity these days. After coming home from church, getting into my warm snugly sweats and making lunch for my husband and I, I decided that having a fire in the fireplace would be the perfect addition to my afternoon. Normally, this duty falls to my husband, but he was all snuggled under a blanket on the couch and didn’t want to get out and do his usual fire starting chore. Because I’m self-sufficient, smart and capable, I volunteered to light the fire. While I couldn’t recall the last time I had lit a fire in the fireplace (maybe it was actually never), how hard could it be? We have a gas fireplace filled with fake ceramic logs. Easy peasy. So I thought.
Here are the steps to lighting a gas fireplace:
- 1) Turn utility key slightly to the right to allow for natural gas flow in to fireplace.
- 2) Pull back simultaneously on the finger trigger and the top switch of a fire starter lighter to produce a small flame.
- 3) Insert flame in to base of fireplace to ignite gas.
- 4) Enjoy your cozy fire.
And here is how those four steps went when I put them in to action:
- 1) The utility key was too tightly fitted in to the wall opening. So tight, that I couldn’t get it to budge. I was having a real struggle. Then I remembered, “righty tighty, lefty loosey” and tried that. Unfortunately, with a gas utility key, it is the opposite. so I ended up tightening it more. Ugh. I finally figured it out and was able to turn the key to the right just a little bit. I knew for sure that I didn’t want a whole lot of gas coming out.
- 2) I moved over and stood in front of the fireplace trying to get the fire starter to work. It takes a lot of coordination (something I an not known for) to use one-hand to move both safety levers at the same time. I had to attempt a few times before I finally got the rhythm going and was able to achieve a small flame.
- 3) When I went to insert the flame into the fireplace, I leaned in to the fireplace to make sure I was putting the lighter down and away enough to light the fire. I wanted to be careful to not ignite any gas residue. That wouldn’t be good.
This is where I got in to trouble.
Apparently, my lack of fire starter coordination took too long; the gas had been seeping in to the fireplace longer than it should have taken. When I inserted the flame, what I got in return was a gigantic POOF. Huge flames went up and out of the fireplace. It was just like a scene from the movie, Backdraft.
When it registered that the flames were coming at me, I instantly pulled away. All I could think of was, “This is not good,” and “I am going to end up like Stephanie Nielson.”
Luckily for me, I said my prayers that morning and my guardian angels were close by. I pulled back just as the flames were reaching out, barely escaping (by nanoseconds) any serious damage. Phew. Dodged that bullet – or rather fire.
And where was my husband you might ask? Still lying on the couch, under his blanket, observing the whole thing. He said it was “really something” to watch. Great.
Needless to say, I was pretty shook up. As my husband was asking me if I learned anything from that experience, (seriously) we both smelled what resembled burned hair. I held up both sides of my hair and asked if they were still even. He said he couldn’t tell. So I went to look in a mirror. The sides were still even but my bangs were all frizzy. I brushed them off and that’s when lots of little burnt ends fell in to the bathroom sink. Well, I didn’t have to worry about keeping my bang trimming appointment with my stylist any more – the fire took care of that job instead.
- 4) Was kind of shook up to enjoy the cozy fire. All day, all I could think of was:
“Man, that was close.” and
“I don’t want to be starting a fire again in the fireplace any time soon.”
I am still almost 55, self-sufficient, smart, and capable. But apparently, I’m not suited to start a fire in the fireplace.
What was the last “not-so-smart” close call that happened to you?