This Fiery Divorced Mom Got Burnt Big Time
Ohhhhh the irony.
Over the past few years since divorcing I’ve dug deep and worked hard to rediscover my passion and ‘fire.’ And I have said countless times, both to my myself and others, that “sometimes playing with fire doesn’t burn us, it awakens us.” A nice play on a metaphor I’d always thought…
But this past weekend, the fire element literally burned me – or rather, it burned part of my single mom house down.
The fire started in a way I never knew was possible: I had been burning a tea light candle, but had extinguished it 15 minutes earlier. I decided to ‘tidy up’ my office and as I grabbed some dirty tea mugs off my desk, I also threw the candle in the garbage can. Yes, the wax was still liquid, but it wasn’t scalding hot. In no way did I think it might be a fire hazard.
Turns out warmish to hot wax can spontaneously combust. No flame is required.
Luckily, after I put the candle in my garbage can, I left my house for only a half hour (to pick up my kids from a playdate). But I’ll never forget what I came home to – smoke coming out of the side of my house; horrifying. And I’ll just mention that I got in sh** from the fire department for what I did next: I ran into the house to find and try and fight the fire myself.
My entire upstairs floor was full of smoke. I raced around the kitchen trying to figure out if I’d left something on. Then the thought hit: the wax. I raced downstairs to my office, where the door was closed. I opened it (big mistake, think backdraft), and before me was a small fire burning two feet high and a cloud of smoke so black and thick, the room was dark as hell. I filled up a couple basins of water and threw it on it. But the smoke was so bad, my head was light, I knew I had to get out of there…
The fire inspector told me that someone in Calgary had died doing the exact same thing as me three days earlier – that is, he came home to his house on fire, went to look for it, and when he found it and inhaled the fumes, it killed him. The inspector said you never know what kind of chemicals are in the air when stuff is burning – bottom line, some are deadly. And when I think back to the black smoke that greeted me when I opened my office door, I shudder…
I’ve now banned the use of candles in my house. I’m paranoid every time I turn on my gas stove and snapshot memories from that day haunt me. I could have burned my entire house down – my three kids and I would be homeless. Worst still, I could have died for the choices I made that day; just like that – poof - I could have been gone.
I am humbled, yet again. And so very, very grateful that the kids, our cat and I are all safe. Life is good.