Yesterday, we were having a new shower installed in our bathroom. The plumber was soldering copper piping and unknowingly shot a few flames from his torch, through some wood paneling, and into my wifes closet. The flame grabbed a dress and immediately climbed it into the bulk of her clothing. The fire grew (without anyone knowing), and eventually grew large enough to send light back through the hole where the flame has originally snuck through.
The plumber looked at me at yelled "fire on the other side, fire on the other side". I ran into our bedroom to see a sight that will be burned into my brain for the rest of my life - a ball of fire in my bedroom closet with flames pouring out onto our ceiling.
I was torn between two mutually powerful thoughts - call 911, or go get water. I knew that EVERY second would count. I was not ready to give my home up; I had to fight for it. If I lost the whole thing because I didn't call the FD right away - so be it. I had to try to stop it. I made my decision and did not look back.
After that 1/2 second decision was over, my instincts kicked in - I needed to go get water - But, since we were doing plumbing work the water was turned OFF, and there was NOT time to turn it back on and fill up buckets of water. The bedroom would be entirely in flames within minutes.
It was my RO system, in the basement, that was my guardian angel. Luckily I had the entire 40g trashcan resevoir full at the time. I grabbed a near by 5g pale and plunged it into the garbage can of water, grabbed a water pitcher for baling, and flew up the stairs back to the room. When I got there it was even worse. The room had filled with smoke and I could barely tell where to throw the water. I started throwing pitcher of it as fast as I could. It took 5-6 1/2g pitchers of water to deliver the fire a solid hit. When I saw that I might actually have a chance to save my house, it was the greatest feeling in the world.
When the first 5g pale was empty, there were still flames, but I could see that if I hurried, I would be able to win. On my 2nd and 3rd trip to retrieve more water, I got the true feeling of what it feels to have your body give you the power you need to get through these kinds of times. My breathing was extrodinarily heavy, but I was not tired in the least. It was as if my muscles had no idea that they should be tired.
When the smoke cleared, we got a good look at the damage and how close I came to losing my house.
I still have trouble talking about this because I feel so foolish. Foolish that I did not pay closer attention. Foolish the I did NOT have a fire extinguisher in my house.
This exact lesson may not apply to your living situation, or your life. But, there is one thing you can take from this - it only takes a second for a fire to tear though your house if the circumstances are right. Know you plan. Know what you need to do. Run it through your head.
I feel fortunate that my instincts won this round. But, they just as easily could have lost. Next time something like this happens, I would prefer to have a plan in the back of my mind (and CERTAINLY have a fire extinguisher, for pete's sake).
Thanks for listening.