Thursday, November 27, 2008

Should We Call the Fire Department?

I am thankful that my husband did not turn into a human torch this week.

About 8 pm Tuesday night, I sat at the computer desk finalizing the family reunion photo book that I'd been working on all day. When James walked by and asked me, "What is that noise?" I tuned back into reality and heard a loud rushing sound.

At first I replied, "Do the kids have the water on upstairs?" but the sound was different... and louder. Next my mind formed the idea that a pipe from the sprinkler system had blown, creating a giant geyser outside. James must have had the same thought, because he dashed outside.

Seconds later, he ran back in exclaiming, "It's a gas leak! Get out of the house!"

We rounded up the kids, telling them to put their boots on in the garage as we headed out. We didn't take the time to grab coats and stood shivering on the street with our next door neighbor, listening to the loud hissing noise between our houses. James called public service and was told not to attempt to turn off the valve himself. They were probably worried that he might pass out.

Since the leak seemed to be outside only, I ran back inside to quickly grab coats. We donned them outside and I put Logan's cold feet in my pockets while I held him. Soon the strong sulfur smell of mercaptan filled the air in the neighborhood.

James decided to call the fire department and neighbors across the street invited us into their warm house. We watched at the front window as a fire truck arrived, parking down the street, while firefighters ran to our house. They turned off the gas and then monitored inside. When they found no gas inside the house, we returned home, waiting for public service.

Hours later, public service had the leak fixed. It had been caused by the ground settling around our house, snapping the pipe leading to our gas meter.

We are very thankful that we were home and awake to hear the gas leak and take steps to get it fixed right away!

James had another big adventure in store for him just the next day when he and a coworker named Ken went to Kiowa to assist the Elbert County Museum sort through some donated items from a local doctor who worked in Kiowa during the late 1800s to mid-1900s. When James and Ken arrived, a retired couple volunteering at the museum showed them a large cabinet in the basement with three large shelves packed with boxes. James and Ken carefully sorted through the boxes and came across several interesting items including an unused flu vaccine from 1934, tablets for infants with the ingredients of codeine and a narcotic, and drugs with opium, barbituates and habit-forming narcotics. They found a license that the doctor owned to distribute cocaine and opium.

When James picked up a corked bottle of dried white powder labeled Picric Acid, his eyes got really big as he gingerly and carefully set the bottle back down. The doctor probably used the picric acid as an antiseptic and maybe as a treatment for burns or herpes. The acid has a molecular formula similar to TNT and becomes unstable when dry. In other words, it could have blown up if James dropped it!

James and Ken found other explosive substances and called the fire department. The local police and fire department showed up and evacuated the building. The Elbert county sheriff came, and since Kiowa didn't have a bomb squad, they called the Douglas County sheriff's office. Their bomb squad came with other sheriffs. Several fire trucks arrived from the Castle Rock and Elizabeth fire departments with an ambulance. They put police tape along the highway in front of the museum. Kiowa police directed traffic and other police were stationed around to keep people out of the area. A rumor circulated around the tiny town that a hostage situation was in progress. James and Ken left before the explosives were detonated. They stirred up trouble and then left!

Click here to read the newspaper article about it, though it is not quite accurate. It makes it sound like the volunteers discovered the chemical and knew enough to call for help. Actually, they were more concerned that they got sent out of the building and couldn't get back in to retrieve their soda pop.

We had some stories to tell this Thanksgiving, and we are thankful for God's protection this week.


Dell said...

I'm so glad you all are safe. It sounds like your husband has a knack this past week for near explosions. Yikes!

May your Christmas be less exciting than your Thanksgiving week!

Anonymous said...

What a scary experience! But those will make great stories for the kids and grandkids!

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

Those firefighters are probably thinking your hubby has alot of time on his hands...LOLOLOL!!

SO glad for God's sweet protection and for some really great holiday stories!

Lisawa said...

Wow! That is so scary!! Praise God you are all safe.... Seriously... that is scary...


Dy said...

What a week! James is quite level headed in a crisis, isn't he? GO HUBBY!!!

I'm very thankful everything turned out well, and that he's safe and sound. You guys, too - why didn't the utilities dept. call the fire dept? Or dispatch someone out there, themselves? Sheesh. That's not right. {{hugs}}

So, um, how long do you think it'll be before you can think back on that week w/o your blood pressure spiking? ;-) It'd take me a while, for sure.


Meliss said...

Hi Dy!

I was surprised too, by how nonchalant the utilities dept. was about the whole situation. It took them quite some time to get to our house to fix the pipe. I'm very glad that James called the fire dept. himself.

Being sick for two weeks distracted me from dwelling on the near-explosive day for too long. ;-}