Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Things have been crazy around here. On top of adjusting to my back to work schedule, general Christmas madness and preparations, my mother had a fire at her condo last night. Thank god she was not hurt. Seriously, if you have never experienced a miracle - live vicariously through me.

She was starting a batch of butter tarts when the phone rang. It was my sister at the door on the first floor. My mom ran down to let her in but my sister was just dropping something off and didn't want to come up. They talked for a couple of minutes when it occurred to my mom that she might have left butter melting on the stove. When she got back up to her condo the pot was dry and smoking. She transferred it across to the sink and it seemed about to burst into flames. In a panic, the best thing she could think of to do was run water on it. LET THIS BE A LESSON. DON'T DO THAT!!! The water caused the butter to basically explode which caught an artificial plant directly above the sink on the top of the cupboards to burst into flames. (Another very important tip. It is a terrible idea to have anything in your kitchen which could become coated in a film of grease from day to day cooking. If you have things like that I would highly suggest you move or dispose of them.) She went into the hallway and struggled with the fire extinguisher. Luckily a neighbor was able to get it and extinguish the fire.

The fact that my mother escaped with the slightest burn on her hand (it's not even really a burn actually) is almost unbelievable. The only explanation is that there was an angel protecting her. Her condo, however, did not fare so well. There is extensive damage to the kitchen. The ceiling is black and the light fixture is melted. I went there today and seeing it with my own eyes only made it more disturbing not to mention driving home the point that it is a miracle she was not harmed. She is staying with us right now and we have no idea how long it will take for her place to be cleaned and repaired. She most definitely won't be home for Christmas.

The saddest thing of all is knowing how awful my mom is feeling. She feels so stupid for letting something like that happen, not to mention embarrassed. She feels guilty about how this has and will effect her neighbors. She misses her home. Though she's very fortunate, not only not to be hurt but also that she didn't lose any personal belongings, it's still very depressing. There is a lot of smoke damage and everything is covered in a thick layer of soot. The disaster specialists will be starting the cleanup tomorrow.

The other thing that breaks my heart is how nervous she is about cooking now. Cooking is my mom's thing. She can cook/bake better than many people out there doing it for a living. This has really shaken her up. While we were preparing supper together this evening she was asking me all kinds of questions as though I were the amazing chef and she was some inexperienced moron. I guess this is pretty normal after something like this. I really hope that she can get past it. One of the ways my mom expresses love for others is through her cooking. It would be really strange if this big part of what makes her who she is was suddenly gone.

For now, I am just grateful and feeling blessed that she is okay. I share this to remind us all how quickly something like this can happen, even to the most experienced cook. I can't think of how many times I've left something on the stove to tend to one of my crying children. I don't think I will do this again. I would rather have them cry a while then possibly start a fire which could destroy our home, hurt us or both.


elizasmom said...

OMG — Thank GOD she is fine! Your poor mom!

And I feel for her because that is one of those things we ALL do — I forgot I had oatmeal on the stove for Eliza's breakfast this morning — until I smelled it burning. It's a totally human mistake — she had the misfortune to have it happen with butter, but I hope she gets her kitchen confidence back really soon.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap! I'm so glad to hear your mom didn't get hurt, that could have been way worse than it was.

mns said...

Wow. That was very close! She definitely must have an angel.
For how much she loves to cook, I'm sure she'll get comfortable with it again soon enough. Mmmm... I'm remembering some of the yummy things she used to make us... : )

shoeaddict said...

I am glad that you told this story. I am also very glad that your mother is okay. I know that she feels embarrased now, I did something similar last week, but hopefully she'll feel better soon.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

this single spark said...

Having had a house fire not that long ago (well... a year and a bit), I can totally understand how your mom is feeling. Your story made me think of my old neighbor. When she heard the sirens in front of my house, she ran out to see if I was okay (which was totally sweet). As soon as she realized that there were fire trucks, it clicked that she had left her supper cooking on the stove. She ran back inside and fortunately it wasn't a two for one deal for the fire department.

The biggest thing I learned that day (beside not to strip paint off 114 year old wood with a heat gun) is how amazing and FAST fire fighters are.

It is a miracle that your mom wasn't hurt, and it is a shame that she's feeling nervous about cooking and bad about the fire, and I hope she is able to get over this soon. The people that showed up and put the thing out deserve so much credit.

bon said...

Holy SMOKES! Surely the nervousness will pass, but so GLAD! she was not really hurt. I just saw the pix too... how did she NOT get hit with the explosion?

Is miracle.