In the last three weeks there have been three fires at my mom’s house. I thought the one I was responsible for was going to be a stand-alone post. Intel yesterday, and talking to mom today, let me know a trend is afoot that is bigger than me setting her chimney on fire…

22 days ago (Stealth Trip III) I set the chimney on fire while burning redundant, and confusing (to my mom) pieces of paper. The sudden jet engine roar at mantle level made me run out to the field, and observe twin jets of fire shooting out of the chimney. The Island fire department was wonderful. They checked the 37 year-old hot mop roof for smoldering bits, hugged me, and agreed that it was better that this excitement had happened to me rather than my mother. I had the Island chimney inspection & repair company out before mom returned from her trip.

Yesterday, while deep on an amazing 6 mile woodland hike, my eldest daughter called to let me know mom had a mishap while lighting the diesel stove. She uses a film canister of denatured alcohol to prime the stove. From what my daughter can gather from her conversation with her grandmother, the bottle of denatured alcohol must have tipped over without mom realizing it. She lit the stove and then, mom says, dropped the smoldering match on the floor, which erupted into flames. Mom wetted down terry cloth towels to put the fire out… She told my daughter that she lifted the towels and found the flames still burning. Somehow, she managed to get the fire put out, but ended up with second degree burns on her wrist(s). Evidently she doesn’t want to tell me about this, as she thinks I will be angry with her.

When I called mom this evening, she told me about spilling ‘greasy gravy’ on the hearth last night while placing food scraps into the fireplace. She tried to clean it up by scooping hot coals out of the fireplace, and onto the hearth to burn off the grease. It didn’t work… Evidently, there was some amount of smoke involved. Thank goodness that was all. We talked about solvents that might clean up the grease. Despite leading questions about the cooling weather, and the stove operation, she did not fess up.

I am going to pow-wow with mom’s local fire department on how to ensure her safety, how to get her buy-in… The buy-in is going to take their moral authority. After all, what do I know?

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