I rubbed my eyes and looked again. Yup it was red, I wasn’t dreaming. I grabbed my glasses from the nightstand and put them on. Concern crept in and I now I’m fully awake. As I threw off the covers I smelled heat, not the kind that usually occurs with a wood fire, this was a scorching smell like burnt paint.
I hit the floor running and flew down the stairs. I didn’t need to turn on a light; the glow from the stove was illuminating my way. It was as if I was descending into a fiery pit, hot and flames dancing on the walls round me. Half way down I looked over the railing and was horrified to see the stove pipe was burning bright, the metal actually glowed red, like lava flowing from an active volcano. We don’t have one of those thin walled pipes. We invested in a heavy, steel lined, navy enamel coated pipe to match the Waterford stove. It was a special order from Ireland and not cheap, but I wanted it to match the stove and it’s served us for over 28 years, still newish inside after all this time. This pipe is thicker walled than the regular mat black pipes and probably what saved us from a house or chimney fire.
I screamed for hubby who was instantly up and he rushed downstairs. We could hear the charred bits rushing up the pipe into the chimney opening, like small stones hitting the metal walls as they were sucked up and out in a vortex. The wind outside was creating a bigger draw and caused the fire to burn faster in the box and pulled it up the pipe. There must have been some creosote built up and it caught fire and burned up.
We turned on the nearby fan to cool the pipe. The heat was intense coming off the stove and it stunk of scorched material and paint. There had been no smoke which was a blessing; everything was being sucked up the chimney. We cleared away all the dog toys and beds and anything combustible around the stove. I thought the chimney might be on fire so I rushed outside to look up expecting to see a red glow against the night sky. Bless the stars above; everything looked normal.
What a fright. A chimney fire or worse, perhaps a house fire, in that kind of wind would have been disastrous; we would have lost everything, including our minds.
Of course I couldn’t sleep after that. The smell alone kept me awake; the burning creosote left a lingering odor that wouldn’t allow thoughts of danger to settle. My worrywart tendency kicked into high gear to plague me, I’m terrible at the best of times and now that we’d courted a potential disaster, my mind was as sharp as a pin that burst the sleep bubble to smithereens. The wind was still howling; hammering out a warning to be mindful of its power, letting us know who was running the show.
For the rest of the night I lay on the sofa with Honey and kept one sharp eye on the stove. The next morning after the wood in it had burned to ash and cooled hubby took off the pipe and cleaned it. If anything had been there it had burned off as his scraping left little soot on the newspaper. We are diligent about keeping everything in top working condition. We clean those pipes several times throughout the winter months and we have a professional sweep guy do the outside chimney every fall. We are careful, always following Benny's rule, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Lesson learned? Don’t make fires in severe wind storms. Mother Nature has a way of kicking arse.