The fire log from hell tried to kill me.

12 Dec

Perhaps I'm being melodramatic, but it felt like a forest fire in my living room.

Give me a chilly winter night, and it’s a lock you’ll find a fire in my hearth and a glass of wine in my hand. I’m a sucker for fires. IN THE FIREPLACE.

Sorry, had to clarify that, because last night I was 98% certain I was going to burn my entire apartment building to the ground thanks to a Hell Log from Pine Mountain.

One down-side to condo living is that I don’t have wood pile out back that I can access on chilly nights. And storing a pile of wood in my place is not an option… anyone familiar with termites?

I am. The first place I rented in DC had an infestation. I came home from work one day to see what looked like black blood running down the wall of the dining room. Turns out, it was mass of termites trying to flee, their writhing bodies looking oddly fluid. Yes, I’m haunted. It’s nothing short of scarring.

So the solution is store-bought, 4-hour fire logs. And not only are they termite-free, but they also come with a pre-determined burn time so you can plan your evening. Want to go to bed at 10? Fine, pop that log on at 6. Voila!

This year I’ve been buying Pine Mountain brand, because they’re (allegedly) more environmentally-friendly. Last night, I think I figured out why: they try to kill anyone who starts a fire.

It started like any other fire I’ve had this year: log in the fireplace, light it at two ends, close the screen, walk away. And five minutes later, standing in my kitchen, I glanced at my living room to see a wholly unnatural lighting pattern.

Curious, I walked into the living room to take a look. The fire? HUGE. In addition to the log, the old ashes from previous fires underneath it had reignited. The two separate heat sources combined to make a ginormous fireball – it kicked out so much heat that I could feel my skin starting to bronze. If you think I’m exaggerating, then think about this: when is the last time you saw a fire that was so robust you couldn’t see the top edges of the flames because they extended well up into the chimney?

I practically crapped my pants right there, convinced that the mega-fire I’d created would probably cause a chimney fire, if by some act of God it didn’t start flaming up the wall in front of the fireplace. Fortunately, I have a fire extinguisher, so I grabbed it, read the directions, and sat in front of the fireplace, poised to start extinguishing if it came to that.

Fortunately, it didn’t. After 20 minutes of the most insane fire I’ve ever witnessed, the ashes/embers below the log had burned themselves out and the log was back to normal. My place smelled somewhat charred though (even with the flue open, it couldn’t keep up with the amount of smoke coming off the log) so I opened the windows and thanked my lucky stars.

Alan showed up about 45 minutes later with a pizza from Homemade Pizza Company, and immediately started sniffing. “Did you forget to open your flue?” and then “Why is your fire extinguisher out here?” You have no idea.

I tried to convey what happened, but couldn’t really do it justice. I felt somewhat vindicated when – at 9pm – the fire log had completely run its course and was a dark pile of ashes. Based on its labeled burn time, it should’ve lasted until 11pm.

I’m going to write Pine Mountain and suggest that they re-work their packaging: “Four hours of normal burn. Or 2 hours of shit-your-pants blaze.”

2 Responses to “The fire log from hell tried to kill me.”

  1. Babs December 15, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    OH, please do write them. I’d love to know what their response would be 🙂

    Last week, I was trying to figure out how to get off the extra wax that had dripped onto my stove burners from when mom and I made the wine jelly (we seal each jar with a thin layer of wax to preserve it). Smarty pants me, I thought turning the stove on to let it all burn off was the right idea. Paul laughed at me when I also had to run and grab the extinguisher because we ended up with a fire on the stove (I also didn’t have to use it thankfully!)


  1. DC: Natural Disaster Edition. Irene vs. Iris. « pithypants - August 30, 2011

    […] Ironically, there were still umbrellas for sale. And hurricane drink mix. Am I the only person who thought those would be the two must have items? Standing there, I wondered if I’d heard the radio wrong. Was Irene a hurricane, or a missile? Was I shopping for the wrong catastrophe? Just to cover bases, I picked up a DuraFlame firelog. (Not Pine Mountain. I’ve learned my lesson.) […]

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