So. Darned. Close.

10 11 2010

What is it with me and fire?

Last night I was preparing an Indian curry for dinner. One of the last stages before serving was to put two refrigerated Naan breads in the toaster to heat through and crisp up slightly — something I’ve done plenty of times before. I’d used the toaster only a day ago and the bread got burnt with the setting on below 1 (next one down was ‘Defrost’; highest is 6) and I’d had to press the Cancel button to eject the toast and stop it ‘cooking’ any more. I’d forgotten about that…

So there I was. Standing at the stove top ([2] in the picture below), stirring the curry, with my back to the appliance hutch where the toaster with the Naan bread was (1). The bowls, the hot rice, etc. were on the counter to the side of the stove top (3), ready for me to serve up. I’d called my husband a few minutes earlier.

He came into the living area and immediately smelt burning and saw that the whole ceiling was covered in about 30 cm of smoke, and that the toaster was spewing out smoke at a rapid rate! I hadn’t smelt it or seen it — I *had* noticed a slight burning smell and thought it was the curry. I had totally forgotten about the Naan bread, which was now almost totally black and nearly on fire.

I immediately spun around on my husband’s shout, hit the Cancel button on the toaster, and closed the appliance hutch door to about 90% of the way down. I got my husband to shut the doors to the hallways so that the smoke alarms wouldn’t go off. Then we opened every door and window in the area to try to disperse the smoke. We even had a pedestal fan on for some time, moving it around to try to get it to shift the smoke out of the kitchen/living/dining areas. Even several hours later, the smoke smell was very noticeable, as it was when we got up this morning. We’ve had everything open fully today to try to get rid of the smell (it’s been raining a lot but there’s been no wind or breeze to speak of, which is hampering our efforts to disperse the smell).

The toaster is history — I suspect that its thermostat is gone and the mechanism it uses to pop up the toast when it’s ready has failed too… which was why the Naan bread burnt in the first place. There are scorch marks on the toaster, so I suspect it was only moments away from catching on fire and perhaps causing an electrical fire. I really don’t want to think too much about that….

I called the Sunbeam Customer Service people this morning to see if it was a known issue. I knew the toaster was out of warranty (I bought it in 2003, so while it was old-ish it wasn’t ancient by any means), but was curious to find out if this thermostat/temperature regulator failure was a known issue. The lady I spoke to there said she hadn’t heard of it.

Guess I’ll be in the market for a new toaster this weekend… And a Lotto ticket!

Oh, and the new toaster will be going on to the counter top when I need to use it, not the appliance hutch where I can’t see it.

Update: New toaster purchased and unpacked. Not used yet.


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4 responses

10 11 2010
Kirsty

Eek! Hopefuly your safety switch would have kicked in before much of a fire – that’s what happened to me with my iron fire the other week. Burst of flame, then pop, and the safety switch came on.
Glad all is OK for you both & no serious damage!

10 11 2010
Karen

Whew! Glad the story ended safely.

11 11 2010
Sue

Ack!!! You are so lucky J came in when he did!!! And girlfriend, don’t you know to NEVER use appliances that include heat in a “hutch!”

FWIW, I hate Sunbeam toasters. Mine (one I had bought in 1975) died about 7 years ago or so. I bought a two slice Sunbeam. Next time I’ll spend a bit more for a toaster. While this one works OK, I can totally see how it would cause problems down the line.

At any rate, glad all’s well that ends well!

11 11 2010
Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts

Yikes! That was a close call.

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