Fireplaces and Burn Days

Our local newspaper informs us when we are allowed to have a fire in our fireplace. Those “burn days” are few and far between, even in wet-chill-to-the-bone weather.

We recently had a burn day and lit a fire in our hearth. Ah, there is nothing like a nice crackling fire on a cold, blustery day. Rick started this one at 3:00 a.m. and we continued to add logs until sunrise when it was time to get on with our daily schedules. We took a break and went out to lunch. When we came back, smoke was coming off the roof and around the base of the chimney. Say what?! Don’t, please don’t tell me we’re on fire with the backyard still flooded!

Rick hauled out an extension ladder and climbed while I ran around like a chicken. (Remember, he has Parkinsons. Climbing ladders is NOT recommended. But what woman has ever been able to tell her alpha male what to do? We try, but they just don’t listen.) He couldn’t get on the roof. Thank You, Jesus! He came down to ground level in one piece – another Thank You, Jesus! “Call the fire department.”

The dispatcher told me to get out of the house pronto. Of course, we were already outside. And of course, I went back in. I certainly was not going to leave our dog, Sarge, inside, no matter what anyone said. (Okay, I’m sort of an alpha female.) Smoke still billowed off the roof.

We heard sirens. The Fire Supervisor arrived first (in less than 5 minutes), followed by THREE BIG fire trucks. Sarge wasn’t happy to see aliens in outer space gear heading into his territory. “Mom! Let me at ‘em! Why’re you holding me back!” He calmed as the Supervisor and I talked. “Did you buy this house in foreclosure?” “Nope. We bought it ‘as is’.” Turns out, he’s a neighbor around the corner and said everyone’s been noticing how much work we’re doing. And I’m thinking: Oh, God, please don’t let it all go up in smoke.

The firefighters were inside for quite a while, using equipment to check for hot spots. Not a one. As it turned out, there was no fire in the attic or on the roof. It had been so long since we’d been allowed to have a fire, we forgot how the warmth can melt ice and quickly turn water into misty condensation. Yep. Another, Thank You, Jesus. “Better safe than sorry” was their kind comment.

I’m still looking at that fireplace with a wee bit of distrust, and thinking a gas log would be nice. No dealing with no-burn-days. No logs to tote. No ashes to clean out. Turn it on, turn it off.

Rick says not until we burn the two cords of wood he stacked in the side yard.