Personal Log: House Fire


Personal Log: House Fire

This was a personal event related to the IKV Melota in a weird way. I had started on a series of summer events to get klingons, mundanes and families together while it is too hot to wear uniforms or go outside*. Having a house fire was not part of the plan. The Melota relationship besides, two of us being regular IKV Melota members, is the fact that Karla (Ship's Captain #1) had a house fire earlier this year and donated to the IKV Melota her surviving ST:collection. Squeeze and I get to store this so we have smoke smell in our home. Then, we have a fire of our own. Two IKV Melota members have now had such a nasty situation. Thus, I post this on my LEGACY IKV Melota website.

*Notes about heat follow the main text.

((addendum: The following summer, another IKV Melota member had a house fire.))

On June 27th, about 1510, a tree limb fell out of one of the ancient pecan trees. It hit the umbilicals to the house. It tore the phone and tv cable (which we don't use) cleanly out of the house. In fact, the telephone demarc was out in the yard, about halfway to the back fence. Regrettably, the power service was strong enough to resist, but not strong enough to win. The weatherhead/meter assembly was pulled off of the brick back wall, however, it remained connected to the breaker box. The cables pulled a portion of the roofline away with the excitement.

This all happened in slow motion except for the kinetic damage to the house. This last decade, we have been losing two large limbs per pecan tree per year. We have been planning to hire a tree trimmer as a protective move, however, this was a pre-emptive strike by the tree. A large limb takes a while to break away and fall. Caraneth was in his room. Squeeze was in the kitchen. I was in my office. We all managed to say something related to "here we go again" before it hit the lines.

When the limb hit, things got exciting. Then, the limb tore the lines away; it felt as though the house shook because it did shake. The service leader tore a section out of the lower roofline. The power went off and the UPS units started screaming. The modamn showed no link. (no phone, duh) I left my system running and headed for the kitchen because electricity was arcing outside of the breaker box and into the wall. The arcs made it about 6-8 inches outside of the box towards us.

I called to Caraneth to call 911 on his cell phone and to instruct them that we have a fire and need the power shut off. He started doing so and was on the phone while we grups dealt with the problem at hand.

Before I made it to the kitchen, Squeeze found the kitchen standard fire extinquisher and handed it to me. I reached for the big fire extinquisher and stared at the breaker box with one in each hand. I instructed to Squeeze to turn off the computer in the kitchen. Once she got the system shut down, she ran to the Volkswagons for their extinguishers. Squeeze brought in the heavy assault extinguishers from the Volkswagons. I asked her to hold the fort and I went to my office to shut down my system.

Once both computers and all three UPSs were turned off, I returned to the kitchen to watch the fireworks. Eventually, the cable melted itself away from the wall and fell across the propane grill.

With the power "off", I could then actually observe for true fire. We had a smoldering smoke such as a charcoal grill would make coming out of the wall and the breaker box. However, we had no actual flame so the fire extinguishers were never used. At this point, it became a low excitement event with which we had the time to go outside and meet the Arlington Fire Department. I gave a sitrep accounting for all persons and animals and escorted them into the house. I also warned them that the line was still hot.

This was so low key at this point that the firemen helped us move the kitchen computer desk and covered it with waterproofing. They allowed me to produce the key to the grill and the bicycles so none of them were damaged. They were great in allowing us to reduce our collateral damage.

The tunnel rat that went through the scuttle hole (poor soul) confirmed that smoke was entering the roofline. Being an old house and less cheesily built, there was a firebreak in the wall that had started smoldering, but contained the fire to the wall. With no open flame and being an otherwise low key situation, the Arlington Fire Department used our back yard water hose to put out the fire. This saved us the water damage inherent in pumping tons of water. Again, I salute the Arlington Fire Department for minimizing collateral damage. We were so lucky that the water even dripped outside. We have zero water in the kitchen!

While they were knocking out the inner and outer wall above the breaker box, Squeeze was already on the phone lining up manpower and equipment for disposing of the tree limb and repairing the house.

Whew! The fire is out. The house is saved. There were no casualties of living critters or people.

Some cultures treat their families and clans as military units. Think about the Scots of Terra or the HaBandari of the planet Haven. I never was allowed to serve in the military. However, I have tried to teach the family military lines of thought. Had you seen us, you would have thought that we actually do practice drills. Everybody operated independently and yet in synchrony to the common goal of saving the house.

Knowing that a dead and empty house would be a target for bad guys "shopping" for loot, we opted to stay in the house. Keep in mind that we were about to start our current 100+ streak that reached 29 consecutive days at the time of this writing. We went without power for 12 days total.

Our wonderful next door neighbor ran a heavy duty extension cord to our property lines and I could continue with mine into the house. This allowed one source of low draw power. We had a box fan in the window at night. We used our camping gear to light the house at night. We would move the plug to the coffee pot in the morning so that we could have coffee before I went to work. Later, it would be moved to a car battery charger, UPSs, or any other item that needed recharging.

We had a car battery / inverter / fan / radio / light assembly borrowed from a different friend. I stuck one of my nasty faced LED lights on it so that we could bypass the inverter and go for 12V lighting. This allowed us to play Magic (the card game) each night for amusement with the box fan in the window.

In four days, AT&T ran a jumper cable from the demarc in the back yard to the house. We could then go online and send/receive email, check the weather (not that it was changing) or otherwise read the news. Yes, surfing the net in the dark to alter the old joke.

We were told by the electric company that to have power, we had to have a wall upon which to attach the service. That makes perfect sense. We were told by the mason required by the insurance company that he was booked out some three weeks. SKREW THIS!
Squeeze counted the recoverable bricks and calculated the shortage. We shopped for replacements and she ultimately went to a salvage yard to get (near) matches of our 1954 Acme brick. (no coyotes included)
She proceeded to wetwall in the outer wall.
She then bricked up the outer wall. Holy Toledo, Batman! What a woman!
We eventually get power on day 12 of this ordeal and can run the window unit air conditioners. The attic fan does not work because we still have no ceiling in the kitchen. This causes a static ring state (you 'copter jocks know what I'm talking about) with the attic fan.
She proceeded to tear out and drywall the kitchen wall, and the ceiling.
Squeeze drywalls in the kitchen wall and the kitchen ceiling. Now the attic fan works and we don't need the AC units.
I can't fix this crap. I'm a geek. I deal with technology. I'm screwed with drywall and plywood. Squeeze was taught how to fix houses by her awesome dad when she was a young girl. Squeeze is an incredible woman with which to live. I'm absolutely in love with that wonderful young girl that I married twenty years ago. (You should see how fast she can pull and tear the VW Buses' motor down to a long block, and then re-assemble and re-install.)

With this cause and opportunity, she is now remodelling the kitchen. I look forward to the new appearance.
As of this writing*, we are well into a record breaking hot weather streak. You may have seen a cat upside down on a hot day trying to loose heat. I have a photo taken yesterday of a squirrel in a tree (the tree which lost the limb) upside down trying to loose heat in a crook of the limbs. Photographically, this squirrel was upside down sunning his nuts and trying to get cool.

Our power bill for the month of June was $75. You don't use power when you don't have it.

After my signature shall be the photographs related to the event.

I do not recommend a house fire for entertainment. I do recommend having your crap together in case of a house fire or a zombie apocolypse. You never know what you will need until you need it and it is not working.

Strength and Honor

Cdr. Salek, Sutai
Ship's Brewer
IKV Melota

The weatherhead is dangling.

The culprit on the downed 220.

Preventive maintenance on other limbs.

Squeeze does the wetwalling.

Squeeze does the masonry.

After Squeeze drywalled the wall and prepped the ceiling.

Squeeze fixes the roofline damage.

Squeeze now embarks upon remodelling the kitchen
since the wallpaper was never liked and would probably be hard to find.

Squeeze tiles the walls. This is behind the stove.

Stainless steel paint. Stainless steel and blued steel tile accents.

A Mini-Man-Cave for my coffee area using the Man-Cave Fridge as a visual base.
Picture of Squeeze. A cute 17 year old dahlin'.

Urethane time. To protect the Stainless Steel paint.

READ THE DIRECTIONS ON THE URETHANE. This version needs temperatures below 70 to harden. When we researched this brand, the biggest gripe was that it was not hardening. The biggest advice online was to apply heat to make it harden.
I repeat, READ THE DIRECTIONS ON THE URETHANE. We have had to run the air conditioners full blast to keep the "cool" on. Keeping them on 3 days in a row is going to hurt the electric bill.

Damn! Look at this.

I still must replace the outlets with white ones.

This is some awesome work by Squeeze.

My new Mini-Man-Cave for my coffee pot.

Dateline, August third. The day that I upload this page.

The material is not original.

The hot streak continued today, as temperatures soared to a record 109 degrees at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, the 33rd consecutive day of triple-digit heat and 40th overall in North Texas this year.

Wednesday morning, the temperature fell to only 86 degrees, which would tie the all-time record for warmest low in North Texas.

The low temperature on July 26 was also 86, which broke the record for highest low of 85 set Sept. 1, 1939, according to National Weather Service data on its website.

For the third consecutive day, Texas set a record for electricity consumption, but power grid operator ERCOT has thus far managed to avoid the dreaded rotating power outages that North Texas residents faced during bitterly cold weather on Feb. 2. With temperatures again climbing into record territory, this time 109 degrees, peak power demand hit an all-time high of 68,294 megawatts between 4 and 5 p.m., breaking the mark of 67,929 megawatts set Tuesday, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), operator of the state?s major power grid. Rotating power outages would be implemented only if power demand began to exceed available power generation, said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT?s vice president of system planning and operations, in a conference call with the news media this afternoon. While rotating outages have been avoided so far, there?s still a risk of needing to implement them, with a continued pattern of brutally hot weather forecast for coming days. ?When you have to implement rotating outages, it means we are completely out of generation,? Saathoff said.

It appears that the heat wave of 2011 has clearly set its sights on the horrific summer of 1980, when North Texans endured 42 consecutive days of 100-degree heat, 69 overall.

The first three days of August have seen record highs, 107 on Monday, 110 on Tuesday and 109 today.

Expected highs for the next few days are 107, 107, 106, 102 and 102, according to the National Weather Service.

To tie the record of 42 straight, we'd need to hit triple digits every day through Aug. 12.

UPDATE: 201108.10 We only need Wed, Thu, Fri to tie. Saturday will beat 1980. We are cleaning out our rain water cistern. We are about to sterilize it and fill it with 300 gallons of potable water. We are getting concerned. After Saturday, we need a monsoon to drop a shitload of water on Texas to get us out of this drought state.

UPDATE: 201109.15 We had a single 99 degree day that cost us the winning streak against 1980. This occurred day 40. Thus, we did not break 1980 for the "straight". However, we had 71 total days which did beat 1980. The quote-unquote "lows" were a record high giving us the highest average "low" for Texas since records were kept.


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