I am a stay at home mom of 2 year old twins. One Thursday, while they were napping, I decided to be overly ambitious and get a few things done at the same time. Having made the Whole Wheat and regular challah dough the night before, I started out by taking challah from the 5 lbs of white dough I had made. I covered the dough gingerly and made the blessing and prayed.
Little did I know what I should have been praying for.
Since our smoke detector tends to go off whenever I burn the challah on the stovetop, I removed it and put it on the dining room table, with plans to put it back up later. I braided the challah and let it rise on the table. Then I went on to make the whole wheat challah. I braided them each and put the loaves on the stove top because I had no more room left on the table. By this time, the challah that I had separated had been burned and tossed in the garbage. When I finished making the whole wheat challah, I covered all of the pans with a bath towel and went about making gefilte fish.[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]All she heard was me screaming ‘FIRE!’ and hanging up.[/pullquote]I distinctly recall making sure numerous times that the towel was nowhere near any of the other burners. I put up the fish, turned on the fire, and left the room, while I was on the phone with my sister. I came back to find the towel up in flames and the flames licking the sides of the cabinets above and on the sides of the oven. I panicked, shrieked and abruptly hung up on my poor sister who was totally confused! All she heard was me screaming ‘FIRE!’ and hanging up. (I called her later and explained the situation.) I stood in the kitchen, facing our back door, at a loss.
I was about to run out when I remembered the twins, who were sleeping blissfully in their cribs. Mortified that I had almost walked out without them, I ran into the room and grabbed my son who had his sandals on. He woke up and clutched his blanket. I plunked him down on the back porch and ran to get my daughter, whose sandals I had taken off before putting her to bed. She woke up, and I put her on the ground outside. Meanwhile, I was on the phone with 911 telling them the story and crying hysterically. Out of nowhere a neighbor’s relative showed up (Whom I didn’t know and still don’t know who she is) and sat with me till others came to the scene. A cop answered the 911 call almost immediately and put the fire out with water, which he said the firefighters who were on their way would not be happy with. I later learned that, while this was clearly not an oil fire, I should have had a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. We have since bought one.
The firefighters came moments later and made sure that everything was okay and ventilated the house. They then proceeded to do a standardized check of the apartment’s fire safety and could not find the smoke detector. I had to explain to the chief why my smoke detector was on the dining room table. Needless to say, I felt embarrassed trying to explain to him why we burn bread on the stove top 🙂 Please, make sure you have a smoke detector in your kitchen! Also, I kept my aprons hanging from the doors of my pantry which was next to my stove. The firefighters told me that that could have also posed a fire hazard. I have since then gotten magnetic hooks that hang on my fridge, where I hang my aprons up.
Please check your kitchens and make sure that it is fire safe! If you are not sure, please contact your local fire department and ask for someone to come down and take a look. And please make sure you have working smoke detectors installed around your home.