fire in the hole

Our fireplace caught fire. Isn't that what it's supposed to do? you ask. Well, in some respects, yes. Not in the manner in which it did the other night. As we do pretty much every night during the winter, we had a fire in the fireplace. After it had been burning for several hours, we noticed the room getting smoky. The odd thing was that there was no smoke blowing out of the fireplace. After a while we realized that smoke was coming up from the wooden base that the fireplace sits on.

We ended up breaking apart the entire base of the fireplace--and discovered that the wood underneath was, indeed, on fire. I've never used a fire extinguisher before, and I still haven't, but I watched as Niel used it to douse the fire. I don't know what I was expecting, but certainly not the nasty-smelling, all-encompassing fine white powder that seemed to explode out of the extinguisher and completely cover everything in the room. Two hours after this whole thing began, the fire was totally out. And our living room was a complete disaster!

This all happened the night before our staff retreat. We left the next morning for Ballito (and warmer weather!), leaving behind our war-torn house. When we returned, I was starkly reminded of what happened as I opened the front door and walked in -- it still reeks of smoke and the living room is in utter disarray. (sigh.) We have to keep the "evidence" until the insurance company sends an assessor to finalize our claim. No fun with us leaving the country in a handful of days (literally).

In the meantime, before we leave, we are resigned to freezing in our house (as we did last night) since we don't have a fireplace to make a fire in. American summer never looked so good!