Today’s drama: instead of spending the afternoon reading real estate, I decided to spice up my life by trying to burn down the house.
Some days ago, M’hijito and I cooked up half a lifetime supply of chicken thighs for Cassie the Corgi by setting them over the lowest possible heat on the ’Cue. This causes a great deal of fat to render and drip down into the rendered-fat container beneath the metal thingies that emit smoke when hot grease drops on them, thereby faking real charcoal. And, as a bonus, whenever you cook chicken slowly over propane, you get gummy icky stuff sticking to the cast-iron grill grates. The stuff is not easy to scrub off said grates.
This can be dealt with in either of two ways:
a) the correct way (take the damn grill apart and CLEAN it!); or
b) the slacker’s way (turn the heat to “high” and let the damn grill self-clean).
Quite possibly the slacker’s way is not the desired way.
After tossing a little piece of defrosted steak on the grill by way of cooking up a large noon meal so’s I could have a light salad for dinner, I turned up the heat and closed the lid.
As Cassie and Charlie were begging food from the backyard table, as I was transporting about the sixth bite of food from the plate to my mouth and elbowing aside the adolescent golden retriever, I happened to smell a smell.
And we do mean smoke! Black, swirling clouds of smoke. Black. Smoke. Swirling.
The barbecue was on fire. And we do mean fire.
Flipped the burner handles to off, hollered at the dogs to follow me, and RAN through the house to the front door, grabbing the phone and hitting 9-1-1 on the fly.
“Get everyone outside the house,” said she. “Do not go back into the house!!!”
Man. Building that enclosed front courtyard was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done to this shack. The dogs were locked outside the house but still confined in a relatively safe place. I didn’t have to get back into the house to enter the garage, open the garage door, drive the Dog Chariot outside, and wrestle two excited animals into it. If I had to let them outside the gates, they could run off and still have a chance of coming back alive.
Fire-individuals (all male individuals, coincidentally) showed up forthwith.
A firefighter does not walk to the scene of a billowing propane fire. He runs. He runs while decked out with pounds of equipment and protective clothing that you and I probably couldn’t drag across the yard.
By the time the men got to the scene of the crime, the fire had more or less burnt itself out, thanks to my having shut off the burners. Barbecue was still hot enough to burn a man’s hand, but mercifully there was no danger of explosion and no danger of setting fire to north wall of the house. (How do we love block construction? Let us count the poorly insulated ways). They turned off the propane tank (which I was afraid to touch) and pronounced the emergency over.
“Is the grill ruined?”
“We don’t think so.”
They suggested that I go so far as to, yes, clean it. Take it apart. Clean. It. Sounds extreme. But it could be well advised.
You know a firefighter?
Call him now. Tell him how much you love him.
Image: TSUGI, Japan (July 30, 2008) A Commander, Naval Forces Japan firefighter douses a fire on a dummy aircraft during the annual off-station mishap drill at Naval Support Facility Kamiseya. Emergency response and rescue teams were tasked with putting out a simulated fire, and rescuing two personnel from a plane crash scene. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Seaman Barry Riley (Released). Public domain.