Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Dryer Fire ---

On February 12th our dryer caught fire and threatened to burn the house down.

Jonathan was scheduled to work a third shift that night.  When he checked the dryer he noticed that his clothes had not quite finished drying, so he put them back in and pressed the button to start the dryer.  Immediately he heard and arc of electricity from the back of the dryer and the motor stopped.  He could see a whiff of white smoke from the back, so he looked around the back but could not see anything.  He checked the inside of the dryer but still did not see anything.  He felt the back of the dryer but felt no heat.  He let Jannai know what had happened, though she was already half asleep.

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.
We had let the fire fighters know that we didn't know where the cats where and they assured us that cats are very good at getting themselves out of harms way and that they would turn up eventually.  That night we found three of them, Fiesty, Georgia, and Cuddles, and the next morning Ciara showed up.  It appeared that none of them had left the house, and Fiesty was even found in our bedroom downstairs.  Apparently the smoke never got bad enough that he felt the need to move from where he was, though he was covered in soot, adding fire to the already long list of things that he is not afraid of.

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.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blizzard of 2013 ---

We were treated to our first blizzard in ten years, though this one was much more significant than the one of 2003.  Jannai is the only one who remembers the Blizzard of '78, which she remembers as being worse, but for everyone else this is the most snow they've seen dropped by a single storm.

The severity of the storm was particularly noticed when the power went out around 6:30 on Friday evening, as the storm began to intensify.  For us, no power means no heat as well.  The outage took out our entire block and the one next to us.  Groton Utilities was not initially sure when the power would be back up as we were the first ones to report it to them.  With the power out, we began to notice what we thought to be lightening in the distance, a rare, but not unheard of, weather phenomenon.

Jonathan took a walk around to see if it would be better to stay put or evacuate while we still could. While walking around the block, a power line shorted out overhead about ten feet ahead of him. At that point he decided it was probably best to head back indoors.  On the way, another power line shorted out in the distance, giving off a beautiful blue, green, and yellow color, followed shortly after by a shockwave that sounded like gun blast that ricocheted around the city.

Jonathan driving home from work Friday afternoon.

The family decided to stay put as the roads were still drivable, and the power was back on within two hours.  Thanks to the insulation of the house, the temperature inside and not yet dropped by a single degree.  The family was asleep while the worst of the storm hit.

Jonathan got up at 5AM to get ready for work.  It took two hours to shovel the driveway to the point that the car could be driven over the snow as there was simply too much snow to remove it all. Even this took two hours of work, and twice snow plows came by and blocked the entrance off again. There was an ice boulder that could not be broken up, about three feet wide.  Jonathan had to shovel around it and roll it out of the way. Even after all of this, Jonathan still had to rock the car back and forth several times to clear the car of the driveway.

This is still before the worst of the storm hit.

It wasn't until Jonathan got on the highway and saw the digital display on the Gold Star Bridge that read "All CT Roads Closed" that he realized there was a driving ban.  To keep from getting stuck in the snow, he reached speeds of 40mph until the car began hydroplaning on the back end of the bridge.  Route 32 was fairly drivable, although he did come across a snow plow that was stuck in a snow bank while another snow plow attempted to tow it out.

The back roads were a different matter, however, and Jonathan was thankful for the anti lock brakes. There was really only enough room for one car at a time, which became problematic when a truck with a plow came the other way and forced Jonathan to pull one side of the car into a snow bank to make room for it to pass. Thankfully the car was easily freed and he could continue, however the very next hill was the toughest of the road and it took three attempts to cope with it, twice sliding back down the way he had come. On the third attempt, the tire and skid marks left from the previous two attempts were helpful in maintaining some kind of traction, though it still took the cars full power to will it up the hill and navigate around a turn at the top.  Elated by the small victory, Jonathan was disappointed to find that the road he works on wasn't even plowed, making it physically impossible to drive.  The car was abandoned, parked on the side of the road, out of the way.  Jonathan hiked the remaining mile on foot, which was difficult as the snow came up to his knees.

Once at work, Jonathan would be there for the next 25 hours (sleeping when he could get the chance) until the roads were clear enough for relief to arrive. He was finally able to get home Sunday morning.

Eliza spent most of Saturday outside, having snow ball fights, building snow fitters, sledding, shoveling, and sleeping over at a friend's house where she watched Mary Poppins for the first time. She had a great time.

Ella Grace, and Jonathan, battled a head cold and mostly started inside, although she did get out to do some shoveling. She and Jannai enjoyed a day of doing their nails and relaxing.

On Monday, a little stir craziness began to set in, so the family went out to The Shack for breakfast and then did some shopping in New London and the Crystal Mall.  The roads were fairly drivable, and a rainfall all day helped to start washing some of the snow away, but there was a lot of compacted snow so dense that the plows could not get under it with their plows.

The corner store, we found, had run out of gas and we purchased their last gallon of available milk.  Other staples, like bread, were also noticeably absent. We're still not sure when school will resume, as it has already been canceled for tomorrow. Also, there is more snow predicted for this week.

What we here in New England call a "dusting".

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Talking With Tori ---

Just realized we never posted this to the family site. A little old, but here it is. We're also collecting video for the second episode of the groundbreaking variety show.