Jonathan went upstairs to put his shoes on and then came back downstairs to get his tablet from Eliza before leaving. When he came downstairs he noticed about an inch of black smoke covering the entire ceiling. Looking over at the dryer, he saw that it was engulfed in flames. He ran closer for a moment to see how bad it was. The flames consumed the tumbler and all the clothes within, as well as many of the clothes that were on top of the dryer. The flames where already coming about two feet off of the dryer. Jonathan ran to the bedroom to tell Jannai and Eliza to get out of the house. At first they didn't know what he meant, as they were sleeping, and Jannai told Jonathan that she didn't know what was wrong with the dryer (remembering what Jonathan had previously said). Jonathan started yelling, "I don't care, there's a fire! Get out of the house!"
Now Jannai and Eliza noticed the smell of the smoke and got out of bed. Jonathan asked if we had a fire extinguisher, but we did not. Jannai started drawing water for Jonathan as Eliza went to wake Ella Grace. Being upstairs, Ella could not yet smell the smoke. When Eliza told her there was a fire, Ella said, "That's nice," and rolled over to go back to sleep. Eliza then told Ella if she didn't get out of bed immediately she would punch her in the face. At this point Ella evacuated with her sister.
With Jannai's assistance, Jonathan made four trips up and down the stairs with pitchers of water in each hand to put on the fire. The first couple didn't seem to make much difference, and even though Jannai had already called the fire department, Jonathan felt that the fire would quickly consume the entire house if he could not get the fire down some. The smoke was the biggest problem, and although he ran close to the ground and held his breath as much as possible, it was quickly becoming a lost cause. On the final trip downstairs, out of breath, Jonathan gasped a few times involuntarily, but did not feel any oxygen coming in to his lungs. As he exited the basement for the last time he ran straight into the computer table because he could no longer see through the smoke. Running up the stairs he began yelling at Jannai to get out of the house immediately. He tipped on the upper part of the stairs, but forced himself to continue up and out of the house.
Once outside, Jonathan looked inside the windows to see if the fire was spreading, but could not see any flicker of flames. He wasn't sure if the smoke was just to thick to see it, but hoped that he had gotten the fire down enough to momentarily stop it's spread. He knocked on the landladies door to inform her what was going on in case she needed to evacuate too. She offered for the children to come over so that they wouldn't have to be outside in the cold.
When the fire department arrived there was so much smoke even on the first floor that they needed respirators to go inside. They were able to extinguish what was left of the fire without needing their hoses. This was a good thing because the layout of the house would not have lent itself to using hoses as the stairs are half way through the house, and the bulk head from outside to the basement is on the backside of the house (away from the street) and on the the clear opposite side of the dryer. The firefighters hooked up large fans to the doors and began blowing the smoke out of the house, checking the oxygen levels with their instruments. They were even good enough to remove the dryer from the house and put it in the backyard for us to dispose of later.
The EMT's took Jonathan's vitals and found his BP was 160/110 and pulse was 111. Though his oxygen saturation was a normal 100%, as a precaution they gave him an oxygen tank and took him to L&M Hospital for smoke inhalation. He already had a slight case of bronchitis so it was difficult to tell how much the smoke was causing him to cough or how much was the bronchitis. He was checked out and showed no signs of carbon monoxide poisoning so he was released after an hour or so.
We were allowed to return to the house that night and despite the residue smell of smoke there was surprisingly little damage to the house, only a small burn mark on the sheet rock next to the dryer remained. Even better was some friends who heard of the fire had a used dryer they were looking to get rid of and offered to give it to us, so we had a new dryer not two days after the fire.
|The grey on his head is natural, the grey on his back is not.|
After a few days, Jannai realized that four feet from where the dryer caught fire is our store of emergency water, about 20 gallons worth, that we'd been saving for our Disaster Preparedness Plan. In the panic of the moment, it never occurred to anyone that we hadn't needed to run up and down the stairs to get water, all the water we could have possibly needed was sitting right there!
All in all we were quite happy with how everything turned out, as we quite possibly could have lost everything. We also appreciated how well the family worked together in crisis and how resilient everyone proved to be in the following days. Not that we needed any reminders on how important life and family are, but it was good to know that we were all here for each other.
|Jonathan's Patriots jersey that was in the dryer at the time the fire started.|
|The fuse box right above the dryer. You can see the burnt cobwebs.|
|Jannai celebrated Jonathan's Spidey-sense with a balloon.|
|The only damage done to the house.|
|Jonathan with raccoon eyes after unwittingly rubbing them with soot covered fingers.|