Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Last night, I'm down in the studio working away on my latest pendant. I have the music on, everything's going smoothly. Life just couldn't get any better.

My daughter comes downstairs - I thought she was just coming down to check out my work, as she often does. She says "Mom, I smell something like a burning smell." I figured she was just smelling a hint of the polymer - as it does put off a little odor sometimes when it's being fired. She becomes insistent though, so I get up from the table and follow her up the stairs. As I reached the top of the stairs, I smell it too!

The first room I enter is the laundry room, and the dryer had just been running. So I check that out - no signs of anything burning, yet I still smell this unpleasant scent. I walk through the kitchen, into the living room, and head straight for the Christmas tree. It smells stronger over there. I shut the tree off, and check things out. Still no sign of anything unusual.

I head down the hall toward the bedrooms - the smell seems to intensify and at this point, I feel my heart slide from my chest into the pit of my stomach and then my nerves begin to get really frazzled! A quick look into all 4 rooms reveals nothing, so I grab the attic pulldown string and tell my son to get a flashlight, quick!

I pulled down the stairs and head up into the attic - it's cold up there and as I look around, I don't see anything, and then I realize I don't smell anything up there. So I head back down, closing the attic door, and as soon as I get back on the hall floor, I smell the scent strong again. "Where is this coming from?" I'm saying to the kids as we all move through the house.

At this point, I'm beginning to get REALLY scared - the thought of a potential fire is terrifying enough, but the thought that I can't FIND IT was even more frightening! I decided to breeze through the house one more time before heading outside, thinking maybe it's something on fire outside. As I get into the kitchen, the smell is worse and then I heard a hissing...a popping, crackling sound. I freeze and I put my hand out behind me to get the kids to stand still and I quiet them.

The sound was coming from the dishwasher (which had been running). I gently pull open the dishwasher door and we were bowled over by this burning smell - yet STILL no smoke or sign of fire. As I shine the flashlight in there and look around, I am very puzzled. There's no sign of anything, yet we hear the popping and crackling and smell that awful scent. My son yells out "It's electrical!" and he runs to the other side of the kitchen.

I bend down low, and shine the flashlight UNDER the dishes on the bottom rack and then I spot the culprit. My nerves immediately eased as I stood up and said "I've found the problem and it's not a fire." The kids, wide-eyed and standing back, ask what it is.

"It's a plastic measuring cup sitting on the dishwasher element, and it's melting," I explain. "I can't get it out until the element cools, so just leave it open and let it cool." Of course by now, the smell had REALLY permeated the house since the dishwasher was open. I don't believe I've ever smelled burning plastic before - and let me tell you, it's not pleasant. But I'd rather smell that and deal with that than a real fire!

The paranoia which soared through my system during this event was unreal...I've never experienced anything like that, and the thought of a house fire was horrible! I'm grateful it wasn't a real fire. I can certainly relate now to the fear which can occur with a real fire and the whole ordeal made me think over our fire escape plan for our family in the event it should ever be necessary.


1 comment:

Scott said...

Those damn pesky plastic things in the dishwasher. I've had that happen before.