The fire that Almost was

I had a plan to talk about this at the beginning of the month.  I was waiting to work through the process that this “almost” fire generated.  Then I ended up needing to work through some other household stuff, stuff that I am still working through, stuff that will probably come up in later posts.  And suddenly, I am thrown headlong back into thinking about this “almost” fire.  A house fire in our community this past Friday ended with a family losing their two children.  I can’t even begin to understand how they feel and am not even sure how I feel writing it out since I didn’t know them personally.  The cause of the fire at this point is unknown.  I know what went wrong in our house, and hopefully by sharing someone out there reading this will be extra vigilant about monitoring their home.

Around the end of February, my dryer began making a loud banging sound.  I thought that something must be wrong with the drum so we called out a repairman.  I’ve really never had an appliance repaired because when something has gone wrong with them in the past, it has been beyond saving.  The dryer, however, was only two years old.  The repairman came and listened to the banging on Tuesday, March 1st.  He planned to come back in two days, clean it and our venting and repair the drum.  We were not to use the dryer.  This created a mini-crisis of clothing.  It was snowing that night, so we hung dry some essentials in the basement with a fan blowing on them.

When the repairman came back and unhooked the dryer, he could not believe the amount of lint that was in the hose.  He said that the ducting line had probably never or rarely been cleared in the 35 year life span of the house.  It began to make sense.  There had been some condensation that had dripped from the duct this winter.  We assumed it was because I do a LOT of laundry in a day and that was a lot of hot air going through a very cold basement.  We figured the seam just needed sealed, but looking back the lint was probably backed up all the way to that point.

Lint backed up all the way to dryer

He took the dryer apart and there was lint just sitting in the base of the dryer.  I think a lot of lint was getting through the trap even though I clean it out every time.  He began to get into the the electrical component to start the cleaning process and discovered that the dryer had been on fire before.

The metal electrical component on the right has obvious burn marks

It was a little confusing to the non-electrical me.  He called it a fire; he called it a smoldering.  All I knew was that this was bad.  He hadn’t seen one that bad and said that we were really lucky.  The noisy drum was from the wheel freezing up.  He could finish cleaning it and guarantee his work, but that really didn’t mean that it couldn’t still start on fire.

My mind was reeling.  I felt sick and had to walk out the room, leaving him with my husband.  I could feel the tears welling up at the “what-ifs”.  The laundry space is a closet on the main floor.  My son and daughter are each in a bedroom right above this space.  We would leave the dryer running while we were gone and sometimes go to bed at night before the cycle was complete.  I could not imagine having this appliance in my house wondering if it was safe.  Nobody could really say that it would be safe.  The stuck wheel had probably saved us from using it to the point of an actual fire.

The duct was so clogged that the repairman was going to have to come back with a stronger blower.  Saturday, March 5th, we went down to Lowe’s to pick a new dryer.  I hate appliance shopping (remember my refrigerator nightmare a few months ago- well I replaced the dishwasher at the same time since it had been limping along).  I ended up with an LG dryer in white.  I mention that because my washer is blue and so now I am mismatched.

I was overjoyed when they said they could deliver it the next day.  I didn’t even know they had Sunday delivery.  The repairman had left us with a hose to vent the dryer out the front door until he could get the line cleaned.  He came back on March 8th and could not clean out the duct. The lint was wet and so compacted that it would not come out.

My husband took his shop vac, which can be placed on reverse, and duct taped the hose to an opening in the basement.  We let this run for long periods when we were home.  He then got a brush kit from Home Depot. He spent lots of hours covered in dusty lint working through the line which exits under the porch. Finally, the entire line was clear and he was able to hook back up the dryer to the duct system.

This had only been fully resolved about a week when I received a text from my son telling me about the local fire.  It brought me back to my fears.  It is one of a mother’s worst nightmares to lose one of her children. I tend to be overprotective of my children because I have a tendency to fear the “what-ifs”.  I reflected over how when my children were little I used to write a card to them before I would leave town.  I did this mostly because I was fearful that if I didn’t return they might not know that they were my everything.  Being a mother was my one desire above all others.  I pulled out some of those letters and reminisced with my boys.  I think I started writing them because 9/11 happened when my middle son was a month old. It changed my entire thought process about safety and stability.

I stepped back from my blogging and social media quite a bit over the past week.  I was dealing with household things, but also I started a Twitter account and things move rapidly there. I’m still trying to learn it all and I needed to step back and ruminate on why I started blogging and why I let myself be heard in the public.

It was a process between me and God.  A time of being faithful to what I felt he was saying and discovering where he was leading.  I needed to step back and be sure that I was staying true to that path. My family has needed me this week and that was where I needed to place my focus.  My motherhood is still my favorite role and the one I feel privileged by God to hold.  He has brought some good words into my soul this week and even though I still get plagued by the “what-ifs”, I know that I can turn them over to him.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:27

You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me – Psalm 139:5

Let your light shine!


2 thoughts on “The fire that Almost was

  1. Oh Amy …I know EXACTLY what you mean re needing to step back to focus on priorities …and I SO agree that our children are the priority …a beautiful and thoughtful post as ever …wishing you and yours a lovely Easter:)

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