.....and other random stuff......

Friday, December 23, 2016

I’m Afraid of Fire

Well, maybe not a full blown phobia but I’m very wary of fire. Not a regular fireplace or a fire pit.
No, I’m afraid the house is going to burn down. I am VERY aware if I smell ANYTHING burning. And I’ve been known to go around the house feeling the walls to see if they’re warm.

I think I must have been burned at the stake in a previous life……

The point is I’m afraid of setting the house ablaze.

Like the time I thought I was being helpful with the Christmas decorations.
I must have been about nineteen or twenty. I think it was the year BigBrother had married and moved out of the house and my parents were losing their enthusiasm for the whole ‘Let’s go all out and decorate EVERYTHING!’  
I was still holding on to my inner child and wanted to at least have a fully ‘loaded’ Christmas tree.
So I offered to put it up.
For several years I had been the one to brave the cold to buy the tree.
I enjoyed the process of finding just the right one, sawing off the trunk to make it the right size, putting it in the stand and bringing it inside.

Next came the ritual of the lights.
Untangle them and stretch them out across the room before plugging them in to check for dead bulbs.

This is where it all goes terribly wrong.

My mother had gone to the train station to pick up my father so I was alone in the house.

I was having a merry old time opening boxes and humming Christmas carols. I took out the first string of lights and stretched them out across the rug. As I plugged them in there was a loud POP and a spark! I jumped back and watched in horror as a large flame traveled the length of the cord wending its way, with great speed I might add, towards the Christmas tree!
For a moment I was frozen in place. Then it occurred to me I was alone and no one was going to come to my rescue.
So, I did the only thing I could under the circumstances.
I grabbed my mother’s handmade throw pillows from the couch and beat the living daylights out of the offending string of lights!

It only took seconds but it seemed like an eternity. When it was all over there was a long, deep burn mark across the rug and the throw pillows were a smoldering mass of black. I took one look at what I had done and backed into the corner of the room clutching the pillows to me.

That’s where my parents found me when they arrived home.
Cowering in the corner, crying and terrified. Not so much for how much trouble I was going to be in for burning the rug and ruining the pillows but for what MIGHT have happened.

I didn’t get into any trouble. My parents were glad I was okay and said I did exactly the right thing smothering the fire with the pillows. They didn’t care about the ‘things’ as long as I was okay.

I was physically…… but to this day I don’t plug in the Christmas lights. And I don’t decorate ANYTHING unless there is someone else in the house! 

(file under: scarred for life....lol)


  1. PTSD! That's what you've got. That was a traumatic experience you had! My sister is afraid of fire after having been at a Girl Scout camp helping in the kitchen when it caught fire. She and my sister plus several others got out okay but two girls did not. My sister couldn't stand a two story house she had and moved to a rundown shacky house just because the stairs didn't give a safe way out for her kids in case of fire. My husband can't remember what caused his fear but I can't have lit candles beyond a quick birthday cake celebration in our house. You aren't alone and it's a real, substantiated fear. Your story does have a bit of cartoon in it as I can just see Wile E. Coyote with a line burnt in the carpet after lighting tree lights - or Sylvester the cat or.....can't you?

  2. I get you completely, and utterly....I'm a real pyrophobic, and in fact have been turning off the Christmas tree lights when we take William for his walk in the evening. Strange when my dad and now my son is a trained fireman! My reaction would have been the same as yours, smother the flame with the nearest thing to hand, but if I'd experienced what you did, I think there would be no more lights on the tree for us!! 😳

  3. Oh! Makes sense why you'd be afraid of fire, but it makes a great story. And I agree with Timaree. Your tale does bring to mind Warner Bros. cartoons.

  4. I know It's a serious subject. But your way with words made me smile.

  5. Scary!! I too, have fire sensitivities. You are a survivor!! Have a wonderful holiday season!!

  6. omg...you were very smart to act so quickly. i would have bolted through the door in a panic and watched the house burn down probably!


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