We had a fire in our house last night. Everyone is fine and it was a very very small fire, as fires go. We are busy counting our blessings today, but I will tell you the story anyway because there is a real point to it.
It was around dinner time, and we were all in the family room and kitchen, with a fire going in the fireplace and some soup heating on the stove. All of a sudden, all of the smoke detectors started beeping loudly. My husband and I looked to each other, trying to figure out why, because the smoke was going up the chimney from the fireplace, the house did not seem filled with smoke, and the stove was not emitting any smoke. Quite honestly, we didn't take it very seriously at first, because all of the smoke detectors have gone off before when a bug has crawled into them and once for no reason during an electrical storm.
After a few minutes of looking a round the first floor for a fire, we were about to give up. Then our eight-year-old daughter, Ellie, walked over to the stairs to go up to get something from her room when we heard her scream out "The chandelier is on fire!" Then of course we got serious. We sent the kids outside and called 911. The fire department was there within probably two minutes and put the fire out. There is minimal damage - the ceiling above the chandelier is damaged, of course the chandelier needs to be replaced, and the steps below it need to be refinished.
What had happened was a lightbulb got too hot and either caught itself on fire or caught the chandelier shade on fire. The blaze quickly moved from shade to shade and was reaching for the ceiling. My husband and I were throwing water on the steps below the chandelier because we really did not want the stairs to catch on fire any more than the little bit that they already had. The scariest part for us was watching the flames dance along the ceiling of the second-floor, because we thought if that caught fire, of course we would have some serious damage. Should we have left the house instead of throwing water on the steps? Yes, absolutely. But in our defense, we were watching very carefully, were not standing anywhere near directly under the chandelier, were only a few feet from the front door, and were literally within about 15 seconds of leaving the house when the fire department showed up (because of the speed at which it was spreading). We were watching very carefully and were not going to risk our lives for this.
So here's what I learned. Number one, count your blessings. If we were not home, and had left that light on, I'm confident that our house would have burned to the ground, or darn close. Number two, think about whether you want to use fabric shades on your chandeliers. I always have, and didn't do anything wrong in this case – for example, all of the bulbs were well below the recommended wattage and definitely should not have caught on fire. However, they did. So I know for a fact that I will never ever ever leave any lights on when I leave the house ever again, especially ones with shades. And I just may never use shades again. This of course could happen with a regular lampshade too if it is a faulty lamp. So, number three, buy the best quality lighting that you can buy. We spent every penny we had on this house 11 years ago, and when it was time to pick out the foyer chandelier, I'm pretty sure we bought the cheapest acceptable one that we could find. When I go to replace it now, I will buy the best one that I can afford. I have a new respect for lighting and for the quality of it, because it can start a fire, unlike, for example, a sofa. So in my opinion, it makes sense to spend your money on the important things that can be dangerous, and if you have to cheap out, do it on other things. I will never make the mistake of being cheap on lighting again.
And like I said, I will spend the day (hopefully every day) counting my blessings. Among those blessings is the fact that I get to write this blog and that you guys come to read it. So that being said, here goes with today's eye candy: