I was home alone with The Toots the other day enjoying a cozy afternoon with Christmas music blasting, a good book and a roaring fire in the woodstove when I heard a strange sound. Sort of like an animal scuffling on the roof. I looked at Tessie and asked her, "What was that?!" She looked back at me as if to say, "Who cares. The real question is, why isn't Spongebob playing on the TV?". We shrugged it off.
I went back to enjoying my book when I heard the noise again. Louder. I looked up at the ceiling then at the woodstove. Nah. It couldn't be a chimney fire. It was probably a squirrel or raccoon that had gotten trapped inside the chimney. Besides, didn't we have enough to deal with? I mean really, doesn't enough scary stuff happen on a regular basis that it would sort of make you think, surely nothing else could happen. Uh huh, sure.
After a few more odd crackling and fireworky type noises, I decided I'd better investigate. I went up to Ellie's room on the third floor and did a visual sweep of the premises (doesn't that sound very professional? I think so). Nothing to report there. So I went back down to the living room, double checked that Tessie was safely tucked into the couch so she wouldn't fall off, and went out on to the deck upstairs and looked up.
Red hot embers were flying out of my chimney and onto the roof. Shit.
I went back inside and contemplated what to do. It certainly didn't seem like anything to panic about but at the same time that little knot in my stomach that always lets me know when things are going downhill with Tessie was starting to talk to me. I paced around for a minute and then went back out onto the deck. Was that a lick of flame? Double shit.
Back inside to pace, this time with phone in hand. To call or not to call, that was the question. It didn't really seem like a big deal but it also did not seem like it should be ignored. Flames should not be shooting out of your chimney, even if infrequently. Right? Right. Okay, one more look-see then.
This time I ran outside to get some perspective from the driveway. And yes, I left Toots in the house while I did this. She was not in any danger as I had made sure that my roof was clearly not on fire and there was no smoke inside my house and besides, what other option was there. I had to know.
At any rate, that sealed the deal since I saw more embers and another couple tongues of flame shoot out.
I raced back inside and called our fire chief, who just happens to be The Bean's dad, and asked him, "Is it normal to see embers and a little flame come out of the chimney?". His immediate response was, "Not usually." I then told him that I thought I might have a small situation brewing and could he come check it out without calling out the whole fire department.
I was hesitant to involve the fire department for fear that my family would get wind that they were at my house and naturally assume Tessie was in bad shape.
"Be right up" he said and told me to shut down the air to the stove. Well what a good idea considering I had the damn thing wide open to fully enjoy the crackly, pretty flames. Wow, I can be so BLONDE sometimes. I blame it on the hair dye.
By the time he arrived it had basically put itself out (not because it took him a while; it didn't, but because it was only just starting and the lack of air snuffed it).
I showed him downstairs (to my ultimate shame because it looked like an advertisement for the show Hoarders)so he could look up into the chimney and he confirmed there had, in fact, been a fire but that it was out. As a precaution, he blew chemicals up into the chimney and told me no fires until Charlie had cleaned it. No problem.
As he was leaving he said to me, "If you here a train coming call 911". I was perplexed and seeing my obvious confusion be added that a chimney fire in full flame will sound like the whoosh whoosh of an oncoming train. Got it.
So for the rest of the afternoon, The Toots and I sat and waited to see if a train was coming. None did.
Like the old joke goes...
When God was handing out brains I thought he said trains and ran to catch one. Toot! Toot!...