Archive for the ‘Idaho’ Category

There is a Zen saying that goes like this…”If you know and you do not do, then you do not know”. This saying was actualized in my life just one short week ago. It’s been difficult to even think about what happened mostly due to thinking about what COULD have happened and how stupid I was. Yes, the story relates to the image of the very burned gas can. Consider this my public service announcement for how NOT to try and start a fire…

Tuesday, July 17, 2012…6 pm

I had invited my 4 and 8 year old nieces down to make S’mores. We have a nice fire-pit down on the lake level and I had yet to use it for S’mores this year. When I got the call they were heading over, I ran down to start the fire.

6:15 pm

Due to very wet weather the previous few days, the weeds and grass and wood in the pit were very wet. Using newspaper and cardboard and tree bark failed to produce a persistent flame. My goal was to have the fire going and ready when the girls arrived. When conventional methods failed, I came up with the idea to add some other kind of fuel to the pit. Here is the thought process that went through my mind.

Stupid Me: “Hey, I will go up to the shed and get some gas”.
Smart Me: “Wait, I don’t think that’s safe. Well, I will just go and see what we have”.

So, I darted up the hill to the shed looking, in fact, for the can of gas that Greg keeps in there JUST for fire starting. This can has a lot of oil in it so the fumes are kept to a minimum. Upon arrival at the shed, I did not see this can. However, I did see a full, 1-gallon can of premium gas sitting there.

Stupid Me: “Hey, I can use that premium gas”.
Smart Me: “Wait, starting a fire with gas is not safe because of the fumes. I have seen flame follow fumes before”.
Stupid Me: “Well, I will just use a little bit so it will be ok.”
Smart Me: “Put the gas in something so you just take a little bit down there with you”.
Stupid Me: “Oh, NO! It’s not safe to put gas IN another container. I will just carry the entire can down to the pit”.

6:30 pm

I hear the girls coming (along with their parents, Suzi and Vinny), and I race down the hill holding the 1-gallon can of premium gas. As I approach the semi-smouldering fire-pit, I swear that time goes into slow motion. The only problem with time slowing down is that my brain slows down and the smart thoughts are just a little too far behind the stupid ones. Kind of like when I was much younger and I thought I could unfreeze my truck camper external lock by putting my mouth around the handle and breathing warm air on it…JUST as the tip of my tongue touched the frozen metal, my brain caught up to my body and I jerked my tongue away avoiding the embarrassment of being stuck to my truck by my tongue by mere milliseconds.

6:31 pm

Stupid Me: Too much in planning mode to even have a coherent thought as the gasoline begins to make its way out of the can toward the fire-pit.
Smart Me: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

6:31:01 pm

All hell breaks loose. Fire explodes up and away from the pit in a big WHOOSH and the flames followed the fumes up into the 1-gallon container I was holding in my hand. All I remember is first seeing the fire in the pit and then looking into the can and seeing flames in the can…the can…that..was…in…my…hand!

6:31:05 pm

Stupid Me: “OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH…I am holding a can of gas that is one fire” (as I whirl around in place)…”what do I do? what do I do? Where do I throw it? Oh, in the lake!”
Smart Me: “NO…do NOT throw that can in the lake. The water will not put it out and you will catch the dock and jet ski and boat on fire. Throw it towards the pit” (first smart thought had acted on in the last 20 minutes).

6:31:10 pm

The plastic gas can, full to the hilt with gas, is blazing on the stones around my fire pit. Behind me. some of the gas had spurted and started a small limb and grass on fire. I am frantically running around trying to put out the flames. I throw the limb into the lake and douse the grass fire with a cushion. At that moment, my brother-in-law Vinny comes running down. We both grab a hose and turn on the water. Luckily, we have two spigots and enough pressure to contain the fuel for the 30 minutes it took to burn out that 1-gallon can of gas. That was, indeed, the longest 30 minutes of my life.

7:01 pm

Fire is out, all are safe, no damage to life or limb or property (other than the burned gas can and the indelible images “burned” into my brain).

One-week later

Wow, the lessons learned from this experience are almost too numerous to list but I will try.

  • NEVER, EVER, EVER try and start a fire with pure gasoline. Lighter fluid would work just fine.
  • NEVER let your “to-do” list trump safety. I was so focused on having the fire ready that I threw caution to the wind.
  • ALWAYS know where your fire-extinguishers are. Gosh, we have three of them on the property. Bless me if I could even think where they were even though there was one very close by.

I guess that about sums it up. So thankful my BIL, Vinny was close by and my SIL, Suzi, too. So thankful the kids were not close by (they stayed up on the hill away from danger). So thankful that I was not turned into a crispy critter. So thankful I did not throw the can into the lake and burn up our dock and everything attached to it. So thankful I did not burn up my neighbor’s house, my whole side of the bay, etc… So many, many things to be thankful for.

I figure I lost my fire-marshal status, but at least I did not lose my life. Cheers and safe fire-building!


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