I wasn't immediately alarmed, because I know that heating elements burn sometimes. Especially when something falls on them. But when I removed the muffins and saw that there was nothing on the element and it was actually sparking with flames, I realized there might be a more significant issue at play. So I turned the oven off and closed the door, thinking that would do the trick.
Alas, a few minutes later, when I looked back in the oven, it was still sparking and the fiery heat was very slowly moving it's way along the length of the element.
Huh. "Charlie? Something looks as though it might be amiss here..." I said to my husband.
We both looked at the element that was sparking and popping like a welder's torch, and burning brightly like magnesium from chemistry lab. I poured some baking soda on it, which just made a mess. Then I poured some water on it, which just made more of a mess. I would have just left it alone, except I was slightly worried that if the flame continued to migrate and reach the junction at the back of the oven, we may have an electrical fire. We thought this would be a great opportunity to show the children how to use a fire extinguisher, so we pulled out our little 1-pounder and Charlie pointed it toward the oven.
Quick show of hands if you've ever used a fire extinguisher?
We hadn't ever used a fire extinguisher before, so we were quite surprised at the ABSOLUTE MESS that a fire extinguisher makes. When a cloud of fire suppressant material immediately engulfed the kitchen, and drifted throughout the entire house, Charlie started hacking and ran around opening all the windows before darting outside in to the 25 degree air yelling for the children to follow him.
I peeked in to the oven and the glow of the still hotly burning element reflected off the suppressant. The fire extinguisher had done absolutely nothing. Except make a mess.
So I called the non-emergency fire department line and asked what should we do?
They suggested we turn off the power breaker (of course!) and unplug the oven, which wasn't an immediate option since it's a wall mounted version and connected in the back. Lo, once Charlie turned off the power, the flame died out and we immediately set to work cleaning up the mess.
It wasn't long before there was a reporter and camera crew on the scene ...
Charlie was interviewed and as he relayed the harrowing experience, he explained the FEAR and CONCERN he felt regarding the welfare of his children and family.
He described the super human strength that was required to pull the pin on the fire extinguisher and wield it so expertly. Most men would have a difficult time picking up the extinguisher and knowing what to do, let alone calmly and swiftly swinging in to action, as he had done.
He went on to explain that he was a remarkable model of poise and grace.
He has lovely feet and he smells good, too.
And his hair? Why, he's like a Greek God!
(Oh dear Elizabeth, if you think he's embarrassing you now ... just you wait.)
Our reporter wrapped up her story on the nearly 50-year old oven that will now require replacement. The question remains whether this will be a simple replacement, or whether it's replacement will result in the full demolition and reconstruction of an entirely new kitchen. Regardless of what happens, I doubt our new appliance will boast the handy cooking guide that I've come to rely upon with our GE P*7 Automatic Oven Cleaning variety.
I must remember... Two Crust Pie 400-425. Two Crust Pie 400-425!
In the meantime, our reporter moved outside to cover the weather.
Although April is less than a week away, we had our umpteenth snowstorm yesterday. By all accounts, northern Virginia hath definitely frozen over.