Post-fire has had me conversing since Monday-last’s Fire!!! with various people experienced with fireplaces, chimneys, flues, roofs and fires too. The list has included Our Trustworthy Geometra, a few local builders… two will be employed in the $10,000+ repair job to start next Monday… Our Very Good Friend and heating/cooling expert… and My Saviour with radiators and water heaters… and, of course the constant wisdom of You transmitted via his many, many text messages. Il Dottore was in Sardinia on a much needed R & R expedition which, unfortunately, went up like the smoke, when he got my hysterical text message of Fire!!! last Monday AM. You rallied and, Thank God.
Like the aftermath of a tragic airplane crash, the first task of the NTSB is always to establish what were the conditions leading up to the disaster. My inquiries of the same come to the following:
The fireplace was barely used. Our Next-door Neighbours, a mother-daughter-and-kid have been camped out in La Casetta while their house is re-built. They have sporadically built fires during their stay and only to take a slight chill out of the house. All the firebox, etc. ever experienced were short, intense bursts of flaming heat.
Huge fires were built on the rare occasions a fire was laid inside the cold & barely used, glass-door enclosed firebox. I had happened to noticed a mountain of burning embers when I glanced at the fire-box while dousing the flames with buckets of water up at the roof. This was not as per My Instructions, and was probably done to avoid constantly climbing the stairs to re-stock the fire with a new log or more. The Neighbors pass their time down at the First Floor DR table next to the kitchen, a typical custom in these parts. If there were enough room, they would be in the kitchen. Again, any fire was laid ONLY to take the chill out of the upstairs before going to bed at 9 at night. I had taught the mother-daughter how to simply build a fire. The message was… start and stay small… a bit of fire-starter and two logs crisscrossed to get things going, adding a log at a time as the fire burns down.
The wood was green. The Mountain Man, who furnishes our wood, had changed telephone service and number without bothering to inform me or, probably, anyone else. Communication in the Lunigiana is an unknown. They see each other at the local bar or in church… maybe. I spent June & July trying to track down the fellow with the added annoyance, once I had his new telephone number given by the bar at Vignetta, that he could ONLY be found at home for meals… maybe. So, the wood he delivered in early August was freshly cut. I stacked it or dumped in places… like the cantina where the cows once chewed their cuds… to dry. Takes time, apparently. Our Very Good Friend and expert with heating issues said green wood, once hot can produce even more heat than seasoned. He knows this from personal experience with an imminent fire at his mother’s house. Seconds away from a Fire!!! The tell-tale sign is too much smoke. But who would see that at 12:30 in the morning?
The night was damp and chilly. Our Trustworthy Geometra, Our Very Good Friend and the two builders booked to do the repair job all said that damp and chilly conditions outside and an overly heated flue inside can produced a pressure differential of letting smoke out the chimney but not the heat, building inside the flue to such an extent that all that could happen was Fire!!!
So Sunday night, the daughter innocently went upstairs to the salotto after dinner and built a big fire with lots of green wood in a cold firebox on a damp and chilly night before going to bed. At Midnight we got… Fire!!!