Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's A Christmastime House Fire!

(Side note: My apologies for the lateness of this post. I could have just bagged it for the day, but I haven't gone 358 days straight with a blog post only to miss a day one week before the year is over. No way. I might be lazy, but I enjoy a good streak. And if you had the day that I had yesterday, you would have been exhausted also. I was caught up in a whirlwind of a plethora baked goods and, oddly enough, Quarter Pounders With Cheese. It was a heckuva day. Very tasty, but a heckuva day and I was exhausted. I'm just sayin'.)

What I like about Christmas is that even though things are all, you know, Christmas-y and stuff, some things never change. Things may look a little different and they may even feel a little different, but beneath it all, everything is just the way it has always been. It's just brightly decorated and festive right now is all. Underneath all of those twinkling strands of lights is all that you've been familiar with all along. And idiots are no exception. Idiots abound all year 'round! And not just in Florida, either! (Though that is where the headquarters are located.) Idiots are everywhere.

This year's Christmas time tale of "What could possibly go wrong?" comes to us from New Bedford, Massachusetts, where a homeowner decided that it was time to remove the ice from the back porch of his house. He decided to do so by hooking his blowtorch up to a 20 pound propane cylinder and using that to thaw the ice. Do you see where I'm going with this festive tale? (If you were hoping for a Christmas miracle, well, you're going to be disappointed.)

It would seem that some genius decided that the element of fire would be the best way to thaw ice. And while that does follow the guidelines for the physical properties of both ice and heat, that science doesn't exactly take into consideration the element of the wood. ie, The wood that the house is built out of. (Ooooohhhh! THAT wood!) Yes. That wood, Einstein.

According to South Coast Today "...the building's owner was trying to melt the snow and ice on the back porch using a large torch hooked up to a 20-pound propane cylinder." Now, for those of us who may not be Hank Hill, a 20-pound propane cylinder is roughly the standard size tank that is commonly seen on BBQ grills. Maybe about the size of 10 human heads, creatively stacked. It's a lot. Remember, this guy was trying to thaw ice, not cook a steak. Meat? A little denser than ice. (I have no idea if meat is really more dense than ice. It seems like it would be, however, so I went with it. I might be a liar, but I'm an honest one.) But regardless of the thickness of the object the flame is point at, fire is fire and it's going to burn things that burn. Ice. Meat. Wood. All burners. All highly susceptible to the almighty "flame".

The South Coast Today article also states that "Those who were home escaped safely after being alerted by smoke alarms." (This sentence roughly translates into "Those who were home escaped after hearing the man who set the house on fire yelling, "Oh, S***! I set the G-D house on fire!") It took about 25 firefighters approximately 30 minutes to extinguish the flames of idiocy. "Snow and ice impeded the fire trucks' mobility. Firefighters guarded against hoses freezing and prevented streets from icing over from the running water." Huh. Funny, I'm not reading about how the firefighters prevented the streets from freezing by using a blowtorch on them! Not surprisingly but definitely unfortunately, those thirty minutes were enough to do around $30,000 worth of damage to the home. Ho, ho, nooooo!

"The homeowner will not be charged in the accidental fire." Charged with what, exactly? Not stopping and thinking? Failure to ponder? Did he do this around products that specifically say "Do not store near heat or flame"? (That was the question, wasn't it? Can this moron be charged with anything? Nope! He's already clearly guilty of being a moron. And besides, it's Christmas! Let's let the moron be with his family during this, the most holiest time of the year.)

Fortunately, there was a quote from Fire Captain Kruger that will provide us all with a bit of knowledge to tuck away in our brains for future use. He said, "This is an example of how you should not use a cutting torch to thaw out frozen water pipes or anything else. When you have wood framing, it will cause a fire." Wait. I take that back. Don't store that way for future use. Laugh at it and toss it away. Far, far away. That's because this is NOT " example of how you should not use a cutting torch to thaw out frozen water pipes or anything else." It's an example of how fire burns things!! Fire burns a LOT of things! And regardless, I was not under the impression that people in general needed a refresher course every now and then as to what it is that fire actually does! It's really not a complicated lesson. Here, I'll tell you all you need to know about fire that will help you make rational decisions in regard to fire in the future. Ready? (Feel free to take notes if you'd like.) It's hot! It burns! It hurts! Lesson over. Who wants egg nog?

And it's not just because the guy had "wood framing" that there was a fire. It wasn't spontaneous combustion. It was what now? The idiot, that is correct.
You know, maybe it's just because it's Christmas, but I'm kinda starting to feel sorry for the guy. I mean, after all, he was probably outside trying to get the ice off of the back porch because it was easier than being all warm and toasty inside where his wife was constantly nagging him about something. If she wasn't nagging then she was telling some insanely boring story about people he'd never met and, if he was lucky, never would have to meet. So he goes outside for a little peace and quiet and warmth from the light blue glow of the torch tip and what happens? Dammit, if that siding did not just catch on fire at the very moment he leaned over to light his Marlboro! Of all the bad luck! Now the guy is stuck with his wife in some hotel or some other small quarters that he cannot escape from. And you know that until the end of time, this guy, on every Christmas, is going to have to hear his wife say, "Remember how Bill burned down the house that one Christmas Eve?" or "Remember the time that Bill was drunk and tried to melt off the ice and burned the house down instead?" or "Bill, tell your niece's new boyfriend about the time that you damn near killed us all by setting the house on fire on Christmas Eve!"

What am I saying? He set the house on fire with a blowtorch he was using to melt ice! He deserves every second of it! Just as you deserve this Christmas knowledge that I have bestowed upon you. Use it wisely. The gift of knowing all about fire is nothing to take for granted.

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