Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Friday, February 26, 2010 Housequake
Trash and I heard a strange noise on Tuesday afternoon, at what we later learned was 2:39 p.m. I was in the study, and I heard a soft thump, along with the house giving a little creak like it does sometimes when a door is slammed. I assumed a cat had jumped off our bed upstairs and hit the floor with a little more force than usual.
It sounded a little different to Trash, who was out in the living room. To her, it sounded like a large chunk of ice had fallen off the house in what we laughingly refer to around here as a thaw. All she was certain about was that the sound came from outside, but she's deaf in one ear, so her triangulations of the source of noises is worse than useless. In any case, we didn't give it any more thought.
On Tuesdays, our friend Bitter picks up M. Edium from school a little early. She stopped by our house to pick up the car seat about a half hour after the noise, which we'd already forgotten about. But then later she told us about how on the way over to the Montessori school, she noticed hazy smoke drifting across the intersection, and heard some sirens not for away. She mentioned this to me later on, and I snatched up this very laptop to check the local paper's website to see if there had been any mention of a fire.
In fact, a house had blown up, and not that far away. Exactly a mile from ours, in fact. At 2:39 p.m.
According to the article, a contractor had cut a gas line. That triggered an evacuation of the house and the whole block, so when the house exploded, nobody was killed or even hurt, which was the good news. The bad news was that the next morning, when I wanted to drive past the crater to rubberneck, you still couldn't get within a block because of all the barricades.
The street the house is on, which is a major thoroughfare through the neighborhood, was open again that evening when it was time to drive M. Edium to his gymnastics class. As we passed, basically we saw a snowy pile of rubble, surrounded by floodlights, with at least one TV reporter doing a stand-up from across the street.
I told M. Edium what had happened. Upon learning everyone was safe, his main concern was for the contractor who had cut the gas line. He was sure it was an accident, and hoped the contractor would not get fired. I have no details on that score.
I probably wouldn't have even thought about this today, except for how this morning, Trash realized two things at the same time. One was that the kettle had been on the stove for a long time, and the other was that she was starting to smell gas.
I ran into the kitchen and saw the knob on full blast, but no flame under the kettle. It's one that tends to spit when overfilled, and I could only assume the water had doused the flame. Hard not to think of that crater a mile away at a moment like that. Especially with M. Edium home with us on Fridays.
So I opened the one non-shrinkwrapped window in the kitchen, and turned on the hood fan, and opened the front door, and the back door, and the window at the top of the stairs to vent it all out. After a few minutes, the danger had clearly passed. And more importantly, Trash was able to enjoy her cup of tea. In an intact house.
I know this entry would probably have been more interesting if our house actually had blown up. It certainly would have made for a more interesting local news week. But all in all, I think I prefer it this way. posted by M. Giant 9:22 PM 4 comments
I just had a heart attack in the middle of that entry.
A reasonable series of actions to the gas in the kitchen *EXCEPT* for turning on the vent-a-hood. When in the presence of a possibly explosive gas mixture, it is IMPERATIVE that no electrical devices are switched on or off. Turning things on/off can make sparks, especially things like fan motors.
The title made me think of the Prince song, which had me concerned about how family-friendly this entry would be!
I have a strong desire to check the gas lines at my house, even though we don't have any...