I Started A Fire

The Question: Have I Seen the Hand of God Reaching Out To Touch Us Today?

Paul had a roommate at college who loved to play with fire. He used to start small objects on fire in their apartment and then immediately put the fire out.

I took up his bad habit. When I went home to visit my family for the holidays, I lit a napkin on fire during a conversation around our kitchen table. That fire didn’t go out as quickly as when the roommate did it, and my mom didn’t think it was a funny game. While no physical damage was done, I learned my lesson.

Since that time I’ve been cautious about fire, especially in the kitchen. I read newspaper accounts all the time of kitchen fires and think how easily that story could be mine if I’m not careful. Still, accidents happen, and yesterday I started a fire.

I was cooking Bow Tie Pasta for the missionaries from our church who were coming to dinner. Since these young men seem to eat quite a bit more than my children, I doubled the recipe and used an extra-wide pot instead of my usual skillet to cook the sausage and red sauce.

I formed the bulk sausage in a patty and browned it in the pan. Then I removed it onto a plate covered with paper towels to soak up the excess grease. I set that to the side of the pan and browned the onions and tomatoes.

I’d been cooking in the kitchen for a while, making baguettes before the sauce. I really wanted to check my email or read the newspaper while the tomatoes and onions cooked, but I resisted that urge and stayed focused on my sauce. (I’m foreshadowing the blessing, if you can’t tell.)

Instead, I opened a new bottle of oregano and set it beside the plate of sausage. The large pot was overhanging the stove top and things were a little crowded on that counter. I bent down to reach into my pull-out spice cabinet just below and saw the paper towel flaming along the sides.

The wrong instinct came to me first, and I blew on the fire to try to put it out. That only made it grow bigger.

I am never calm, but I was calm. But what did I remember about kitchen fires? Should I bury the plate in my flour bin or set it on the counter and pour flour on it?

Water. Water. Water. Oh, yeah, right, I thought.

I grabbed hold of the other side of this flaming plate, and held it under the kitchen faucet and drenched it with water. I can only imagine the scene that would have greeted our dinner guests if those small insights in the moment hadn’t come.

Don’t you think it is time we purchased that fire extinguisher we put on our home safety list two years ago?


  1. Karin
    Sep 25, 2008

    Glad you’re okay and had the sense of staying calm. These boys were glad to have had a meal. Bless you.

  2. Julie
    Sep 25, 2008

    Wow, I am glad you were calm, because that could have been bad. I do think it is time to get that extinguisher. We have had one for quite a while.

    I have been tagged on my blog and tagged you if you wish to do it too. Check out my blog. Talk to you soon,

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