Image credit: Flicker - "Colbalt 123"

This picture might be a little dramatic. But- it was a pretty dramatic event when we had an unwanted fire in our apartment this last week. Yikes. Ok, let me back up a little to explain…

Hannover is not Pasadena. (And now I will take a moment to be 12 years old again and say what you are all most positively thinking right now- “duh”!). What I mean is that it’s cold here. Really cold. And it rains all the time. So, last week Monday when the temperature dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit I decided it was time to turn on the heat. I carefully switched the dial on our water heater from “S” for Summer to “W” for winter, checked to make sure all of the windows were closed and proceeded to turn the dial on the thermostat. Success! Warm air instantly began to flow from the heaters and within minutes Maxwell and I were beginning to de-thaw.

It was time to prepare dinner. Now that we finally have a kitchen again I am enjoying every second of using it! Within minutes water was boiling, onions were sizzling on the stove, chicken was cooking in the oven going and garlic bread was being prepared in our micro-grill. The aromas of food being cooked and sounds of sizzling amidst the noise of the steam exhaust and micro-grill working their magic were overwhelming. It was my own little home version of the Iron-Chef and it was wonderful.

[I must take a brief interlude from this story to explain what a “micro-grill” is for all my American readers. Basically it’s a microwave, convection oven, toaster and grill all in one. Crazy-efficient, I know, but that’s Germany for you.]

Back to the mad chef. Here I am in my element, moving around the kitchen at the speed of light, when all of a sudden there was smoke pouring into the kitchen. A lot of smoke. And I had no idea where it was coming from. My heart began to race and my brain instantly started flashing ideas and thoughts around in my head. “Holy crap. Was the apartment on fire?” “I have to stop this”. “Go!”. I quickly turned off the stove, oven, and exhaust and ran over into the living room to switch off the heat.

When I got back to the kitchen it was completely FILLED with smoke. There were no signs of flames, just smoke. You literally couldn’t see the other end of the room from the door due to the huge cloud of smoke that had now formed. Woah. I still didn’t know what the source was.

I remembered a fire scene from “Expecting Adam”, a book I had recently finished and was reminded to cover my mouth with a damp cloth. I decided to try one more thing before calling the fire department and running out of the apartment… So, in the midst of trying not to FREAK out, I covered my mouth, and ran through the smoke in order to open the windows in the kitchen to let out the smoke. I then jogged around and opened the windows in the rest of the apartment. Ah- fresh air!

And then, at that very moment, I heard it. A subtle buzzing noise that I recognized to be the micro-grill was coming from the other end of the kitchen. Ah Ha! That was it! I ran over to unplug it and when I opened it noticed that the garlic bread had caught on fire and was now a block of hard coal. Mystery solved. The stench was beyond despicable.

Let’s recap the situation for a moment: It’s 40-something degrees outside and rainy, all of the windows in the apartment are open, our dinner is spread out all over the kitchen, none of it completely cooked, there is smoke everywhere and the entire apartment smells like rotten soot.

And what do you know…. At that very moment… Drew get’s home from work. Not exactly the “welcome home” I was planning. Oh well. It made life interesting.

And, in case you’re wondering… It’s now a week later and things are smelling better in our apartment.  We still aren’t sure what exactly happened to cause the fire, but we think it was the bread’s fault and not the mico-grill’s. I’m serious. We made a second piece of the same bread in the oven (per the exact directions on the pack, which were in English) and watched it carefully. It started getting charred about half way through the cooking time. So we think it was probably incorrect cooking info on the bread bag. Who knows. I cleaned out the micro-grill and it seems to be back to working fine. But… I’m watching it like a hawk! 🙂

[Editor’s note: Since the “Fire!” I’ve learned that it is actually NOT a good idea to open the windows to let out smoke when you suspect a fire. The reason being is that if there *were* flames, opening the windows would let in more oxygen into the area and would actually feed the fire. Oops. Now I know. And you do too- don’t copy my actions!] 🙂

9 Responses to “Fire!”

  1. B. writes:

    Scary!! How does one call the fire department in Germany? Is it as easy as 9-1-1? Glad it wasn’t more serious!

  2. Charles writes:

    Where can I get a micro grill?

  3. Emily writes:

    oh that’s terrible. eesh! Glad you and the apartment are okay. We just got a george foreman type grill but haven’t tried it out yet. Hmmm…wonder if our oven is actually also a micro-grill. I need instrux.

  4. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Ok, since you asked, here’s a link:

  5. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    In Germany you dial 112 for the fire department, 110 for the police.

  6. Traveling Mama writes:

    wow! That is so scary! I am so glad you were okay! It’s always things like this that can cause our extra stress in a new country. We discuss different scenarios and what we would do and knowing how to handle certain emergencies helps us not feel helpless and also prepared.

  7. Charles writes:

    Thank you for the link. I checked the website and emailed them to see if I can get a micro grill in the US but it’s not available. Probably has to do with the voltage and type of plug.

  8. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    If you’re REALLY wanting one you could always get a transformer. But that’s a little extreme. 🙂

  9. Robert writes:

    Hey friends! Just thought I’d drop in and read what you guys are up to! The incorrect English on the bread packaging reminds me of a few months ago, Amara and I decided to get some churro mix from Super King! Fortunately for us, the company translated the Spanish directions into English (right?). Unfortunately for us, they missed a key part! They wrote: “Add 1 cup of water to the mix.” Instead of “Add 1 cup of water to 1.5 cups of mix”

    Who would’ve thought that key line would’ve been so crucial to our success!?

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