Cautionary Tales of Berrak: Fire Extinguishers

Picture this. 

Ballard, 2020. 

I got the keys to my current apartment in the middle of November 2019 but my other lease wasn’t up until the end of December, so I had an entire month to move. My first night in my new apartment was December 30. Now before I take you forward to January 11, 2020, a little bit of context for the events.

I moved to this apartment to downsize because I was spending a stupid amount of money on rent every month. My new apartment is older and smaller, but I really like it. The only thing that drives me nuts is the lack of counter space and outlets in the kitchen, but I was determined to make it work. There’s also an outlet above the stove, so on January 11, when I was cooking, I decided to put my Instant Pot in the middle of the stove to make use of that outlet. When the cooking was finished, I unplugged the Instant Pot, emptied it, and put the insert in the sink to soak. 

I was eating my dinner in the living room when I smelled something odd. My windows were open so I thought it might be one of my neighbors cooking, so I didn’t think much of it. 

It must’ve been instinct because I decided to take a look at the kitchen anyway.

Apparently, when I moved the Instant Pot, I bumped one of the dials for the burners on the stove. There is a thick plastic covering the bottom of the Instant Pot.

Because my stove is electric, it was a slow burn but there were small flames.

When I was doing the walk-through of the apartment, I made sure that there was a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. So, I went to grab it out of the cabinet. Followed the steps. Pointed it at the stove.

Not even a whisper.

Maybe I did it wrong. I tried again.

Empty.

IT WAS EMPTY.

THERE WERE FLAMES IN MY KITCHEN AND THE FUCKER WAS EMPTY.

I have no idea how I stayed calm because the flames had gotten bigger at this point but the first thing I did was to douse the flames with water. There was a momentary uncertainty because I knew you couldn’t do that with a grease fire but what if I wasn’t supposed to do that in the kitchen, period? 

Listen, I said I was calm but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t panicking.

I got the fire under control and moved the Instant Pot.

The apartment is small, there’s no fan in the kitchen, and not a whole lot of air circulation. It was now full of smoke (this is also how I found out the smoke detector wasn’t working.) So, I throw Farrah in the laundry room and close the door. Open all of the windows, plus the front door, and use a box fan to air out the apartment. It took 45 minutes. I somehow stayed relatively calm throughout it all.

As much as I scrubbed with Mr. Clean (that shit really works), there are still some dark spots in my kitchen. But after 2 years, I finally replaced the two knobs that had melted. Apparently, my stove is so old, they don’t even make replacement parts anymore.

So, this is your reminder to, for the love of everything, CHECK THE LEVELS OF YOUR FIRE EXTINGUISHER.  And if you don’t have one, get one.

On the 4th anniversary of this day, I’m honestly still impressed with my level of calm during this ridiculous crisis.

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