Ron is on spring break as of Friday, and so far we've had an eventful couple of days. Friday my brother- and sister-in-law came over in the afternoon with their twin boys, planning on frying some chicken wings for dinner. Sounded like a good idea at the time! As the oil was heating on the stove, Ron and Steve worked on the deck a little bit, and then took off to run a quick errand. Julie and I stayed back with the kids, and hung out and talked. Soon we noticed the oil was smoking (!) so we turned the burner off and removed the lid. Julie thought that it would be a good idea to take the pot outside and set it on the concrete to cool, while we de-smoked the great room. I had never heated a pot of oil (nor have I deep-fried anything in my life!), so it sounded fine to me. "I'll get the door."
As she carried the rather large pot of oil from the kitchen area toward the front door, the oil literally burst into flames. The instant I opened the door I looked back to see her carrying a pot of fire - a wave of flames a few feet tall. She hurriedly carried it out the front door to hurl it into the lawn. It was a somewhat chaotic moment, but it almost seemed like slow motion. Some of the oil sloshed out onto the porch and siding, and I heard the whoosh of the fire climbing up the exterior wall a few feet away from me. I actually thought to myself, "our house is going to burn down," which seems dramatic in hindsight, but when you see an 8 foot tall wall of fire on the side of your house (at the base of which is a wooden porch), wow... scary.
At that point, the sloped part of the front landscaping was on fire (grass that we didn't want anyway), and Julie was frantically hooking up a hose to the faucet by the front porch while I ran inside to call 911 and make sure nothing inside was on fire. I glanced up to see the kids in the opposite corner of the great room crying, obviously worried (I can't imagine what it seemed like from their perspective, watching their moms in this situation), but we just couldn't help them at that moment. With the phone in hand, I dashed back outside to help Julie, who had pretty much extinguished the fire with our sprinkler head hooked up to the hose. The porch siding had not caught on fire, although the flaming oil melted some of the siding and singed the front porch slightly. All of this happened in a matter of a minute or two. Later we thought about how having vinyl siding probably saved our house, since what is under neath the vinyl is old, dried, wooden siding. Meanwhile, Ron and Steve returned and we brought them up to speed. They had noticed the pot in the front lawn and I can't imagine what they were thinking. They actually got back before the firefighters came. The 911 dispatch said they wouldn't send a truck, but they did. And a few geared-up firemen too! I told them what happened and they wrote down the information they needed, and we tried to cheer the kids up with the fact that there were real firemen and a firetruck! Henry slept through the entire thing at the room at the end of the hall - so no smoke got to him either. My sister-in-law felt terrible, although she didn't do anything wrong. She kept apologizing, and I appreciated it but tried to remind her that she had nothing to apologize for. It could have been so much worse and I'm just glad everyone is okay. The guys missed quite a scene. Afterward we decided to grill the chicken wings with some Red Hot instead of frying them! The kids got to say hi to some real firemen (who were apparently blown away that a girl knew what a j-channel is), and had cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner, and we had our wings around 8 PM.
I know some might say that the pot of oil should have been left alone on the stove and not moved. I never would have thought that hot oil could spontaneously combust! Maybe I should have known that. Neither of us did, and I can see the logic of wanting to take it outside. Whatever we should have known, or should have done... doesn't matter anymore, because what happened can't be changed. We learned a lesson (I have actually have no desire to deep fry anything), and nobody was hurt. I'm so thankful for that. We can fix and replace things easily.