Monday, October 02, 2006


When we moved, the movers wouldn't take anything pressurized. I guess they don't want any possibility of something exploding or spraying inside the load. Can't say I blame them, but we lost our fire extinguishers in that rule. Probably just as well, they were 10 years old.

Zipping through Home Depot here one day, I was transfixed by the hot red fire trucks, I mean, extinguishers, and thought, well, these are things you sure wouldn't NOT want to have bought when you need one. Good rationalization.

I got three. Two for downstairs and one upstairs.

We have a lamp upstairs which needs some work on it - the thing that holds the light socket is loose, the switch on the cord is iffy. Terri says it's time to fix it, and takes it out. She replaces it with a new, good lamp from downstairs. Temporarily.

Last night (the days ARE getting shorter) I try that out, but it won't light. Check outlet, plug, switch... must be the bulb (even though it worked fine downstairs.) I ask Terri to bring a replacement and she does. While I watch TV, Terri unscrews the old bulb and screws in the replacement, turns the little knob on the side of the lamp. Zapping noises - a loud long buzz, and from behind the shade, flashes and what must be sparking. Terri jumps back. Flames now are shooting above the rim of the cloth shade. I grab the extinguisher, am ready to spray it as the flames diminish. Acrid electrical-fire smell is now wafting everywhere. Terri pulls the plug. We cautiously peer over the shade (amazingly, not on fire.) And I blow out the remaining small flame coming from the socket.

When the flames were at their peak, I thought... so that's how it happens... this will set the shade on fire and that will be a big flame and might set the woodwork on fire or even fall onto the couch... and the house is very seriously on fire.

...and I was very VERY glad I bought that fire extinguisher.

My only guess is that the bulb Terri screwed in was somehow broken at the insulator or the lamp had shorted out - certainly it WAS a short. Don't know why the circuit breaker didn't break. I guess there wasn't enough smoke (just stink) to fire the smoke alarm.

I post with a strong suggestion that you too buy fire extinguishers with the hope you never experience the feeling I had as I cradled the cylinder in my arms, about to pull the pin, aim the nozzle, and squeeze the trigger. But if you do, you'll know you did the right thing!

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