Sep 18, 2011

Greg Edelston, Wanted Arsonist

Last night at around 3:30 AM, I decided that I wanted some ramen noodles. I had been hanging out on the second floor with four others; the kitchen was on the first floor. I went downstairs and put some water on the stove. I briefly considered whether it would be dangerous to leave the stove unattended. I had, of course, been taught to never leave a stove alone; but it was just a pot of water. It wasn't like the kitchen was going to catch on fire. So I left.

Obviously, the kitchen caught on fire.

I returned ten minutes later, Cup Noodles in hand. I opened the door and took two steps in, at which point I realized that the entire pot was engulfed in flames. I put down my noodles on the sink counter next to me, and my 3:40 AM brain started turning its gears. My first thought was: There's a fire. It's caused by the stove. I should turn the stove off. Fortunately, I soon realized that that was a TERRIBLE idea, and that I would likely burn my arm off trying to reach the dial. Instead, I fled for help.

I realized that I needed a fire extinguisher. I ran back upstairs to ask my friends where I might find one; however, they were highly likely to think that I was making a joke of some sort. Thus, I had to clarify and reiterate that I was not making a joke. After a few rounds of "I need a fire extinguisher. Where are they? I am not joking." "What?" "The stove is on fire. Like, for actual. Where's a fire extinguisher?" etc., they finally followed me downstairs.

Apparently when I said that the stove was on fire, they were imagining a flame the size of perhaps a birthday candle. When I showed them through the window of the door that the flames went twice as high as the pot itself, it was go-time.

At that point, this lumbering intimidating Russian fellow by the name of Nikolay went into action mode. He ran off into another hall and quickly returned with a fire extinguisher, and then removed his jacket ("I like thees jacket too much."), took a deep breath, and ran in.

It was impossible to see into the kitchen through all the smoke, but you could vaguely see Nick's silhouette extinguishing the fire like a boss, opening a window, and returning back from the abyss. The literal problem was solved.

In the meantime, I was calling the R2-on-call (the phone that gets passed around the resident resources in case there's ever a problem). Unfortunately, it was about 3:45 AM, so the conversation went roughly as follows:

R2: Hey, this is the R2-on-call phone. This is Kate. What's up?
Me: Um. Hello. This is Greg. Uh, Edelston. So, I'm just totally lit the stove on fire.
R2: What? 
Me: In the West Hall 1st-floor kitchen, there is a pot of water on the stove, and it is on fire. Well, it just was. Nick just got the fire extinguisher and put it out. So I guess the actual danger is gone, but the room is still full of smoke. But like, we opened a window, so I dunno, it just seemed like it would be a good idea to call you and let you know?
R2: Oh, yeah. Well, uh, if the fire's out, then I guess the best I can tell you is to try not to light it on fire again.
Me: Okay. I wasn't planning on it. Thanks, and sorry for waking you up.
R2: No, no. It's okay. Thanks for telling me. Good night.

She told me the next morning that she was still in 3:45-AM-mode, and thus the words "fire extinguisher" didn't click for her; she assumed it was just a little burner fire or something. I could probably have communicated that a little better, in retrospect.

We wanted to go inspect the damage and figure out how the hell I managed to catch a pot of water on fire, but the room was still too smokey, so we couldn't walk in. We instead waited around for half an hour for the smoke to clear up, with me kvetching the entire time about how I left my noodles in there.

Finally, the smoke cleared up enough for us to inspect the damage. It was disgusting. Everything was coated in soot from the smoke. Everything. You could run your finger along any surface and watch it turn ten shades darker before your eyes. You would tread footprints wherever you walked. Worse yet, there were three large trays of what had been chocolate truffles-to-be sitting out on the table, now completely covered in a yellow dust, with a sign that read "DO NOT TOUCH. There will be consequences. I will destroy like 25% of the things that you hold dear." The truffles were supposed to take two days to make. They were no more.

Apparently, the pot that I decided to use had a rubber bottom. Why anyone though it was a good idea to put rubber on the bottom of a metal pot is beyond me, but I'm guessing it has some use beyond starting fires. Either way, the rubber caught on fire and started melting, which completely ruined one of the burners. I am still impressed by my own ability to light a pot of water on fire.

But don't worry. I wound up eating noodles that night.

UPDATE: I now know why the pot had rubber on the bottom. It was actually my friend's electric kettle. I'm just stupid.