This morning started as most of my mornings do. Get up, check email and a couple of other things online, head downstairs, turn on the TV to watch a show recorded the night before, and -- well, that's where the routine ended. As I was heading to the porch to get the morning paper, every smoke alarm in the house started screaming in that way that only they can do.
I quickly ran around downstairs. Nothing. Ran upstairs and looked around. Nothing. Back downstairs and I could smell that smell that comes with electrical things burning up. Getting stronger. Fast. At that point, I give. Grabbed the phone and call 911. The nice lady on the other end remained very calm, verified my name and address, and told me to go outside and wait for the fire truck to arrive.
Yeah, that makes sense. But first, grab the important stuff. Thankfully, due to the reoganization efforts around here (thanks again, Diane & Amy!), I knew exactly where the cat carrier was. Grabbed it and hastily put the cat inside, then grabbed the phone and the money bag with proceeds from the weekend's garage sale (things can be replaced, cash and cats, not so much) and went to the front porch.
In a matter of a minute or less I heard the fire engine coming into the neighborhood. Those guys are fast! Out of the truck pile about six guys (sorry, adrenalin makes the details a bit blurry at times). They ask me a couple of questions and head inside.
After looking around and seeing that nothing was visibly burning, they turned off the gas and circuit breaker for the furnace (can't be too careful with that stuff) and then used their equipment to try and figure out if any outlets had short-circuited. A couple of them looked suspicious, so another breaker got turned off.
By now, the smell was still around, but not increasing and the alarms had stopped blaring. Whew! I gathered myself a bit and asked one of the
The crew chief then told me I should call NW Natural to have them come and turn the gas back on (seems the firemen can turn it off, but aren't authorized to turn it back on) and had me give him some information. (I gave him a blog card, so if ya'll are reading this from the fire station, hi!)
Okay, so reluctantly I let all the
Back in the house, I opened up the windows to clear out that smell. It was about 38 degrees outside (that's F, not C and cold for here), but the cold I can battle; the smell? Not so much.
Called NW Natural and a very nice lady got some information and promised to have someone out today, but couldn't say when as they'd been quire busy after some light snowfall in the area last night. That's okay. I knit. I have wool things. I know how to stay warm.
Then I got online and used Angie's List to find a local electrician. Garner Electric had good ratings and they're right here in Hillsboro, so I made the call and another nice lady assured me that someone would be out between noon and 2:00.
By 12:30, I had both a NW Natural guy and the Garner Electric guy here doing their things. My apologies for not remembering your names! And thanks for making sure all was well. No worries about the charges from Garner Electric -- it's money well spent for peace of mind!
Even though it's still unclear what burnt out, the danger seems to be over with. I'm just thankful for -- well, a lot of things. Starting with the fact that I was home when this happened, proceeding to the fact that I got up and got dressed rather than just threw on a ratty bathrobe, and continuing on through the fact that my cat was calmer about it all than I was and that everyone who responded was so fast, nice, and helpful.
I did discover later that one of my external hard drives had tunred into a brick. Now I'm wondering if maybe that was what caused the stink in the first place. It wasn't anywhere near the smoke detector that went off first, but my house is very open, so the airflow could easily have caused the particles to go downstairs first, setting off that alarm. Oh, I'm also thankful that I had backups running daily, so I won't lose any data. :)
Did I mention that while the gas company guy and the electric company guy were here two guys from the Salvation Army showed up to take away the leftovers from my garage sale last weekend? Yeah, you guessed it, they were nice, too. And now my garage has a TON of room in it!
Let me say it one more time. A big THANK YOU to Washington County 911, Hillsboro Fire, NW Natural, and Garner Electric. All you guys (and gals, too) rock and you can stop by my place for coffee any time. :)
P.S. The stash is fine, nicely protected inside its bins in the fiber room. Yeah!