Fire, slightly out of hand

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It began like all the best plans, with an idea. There was an ugly dead broken-looking overgrown lump of a massive plant in the garden. It used to look like long palm-tree stems waving from a single tropical clump of a windy afternoon. Now it was an old, used, dense, dry, flopped-out giant mop. Its long strands wormed across part of the driveway like an Emo’s hair blocking his face, lending the front garden a deep-felt weary dissolution with life, the universe, horticulture and mainstream teenage pop music. It needed removing before it had an undesirable effect on my ten year old. And I was just the father to do it!

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A few days earlier I bought a drum of kerosene from a local garage. I informed a neighbour of my intention.

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“You’ll need to watch it doesn’t catch onto the rest,” he noted, pointing at the shrubs on a low wall above and beyond the goth in question.

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“No problem,” I laughed since none of it was too close to either of our houses. “Sure if it all catches up we can replant.” I never liked most of that over-planted area anyway.

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The idea was to video the kids on top of the ‘plant’ screaming for their lives. Then I’d remove them and set it ablaze, later superimposing one shot on top of the other. Now that’s an idea!

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But the ten year old was having none of it. She was suddenly too cool to perform. A change of plan was called for… she and her brother would prod their parents onto the plant, we would scream and be seen to burn while the children danced around the flames. That she agreed to.

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So the first scene was shot, then everybody retired to a safe area while I swamped the moppy stump with kerosene. After a few false starts, the fire took –but it was in just one corner. I had imagined it would go “whump” and light all over. Can we burn it again? The video, as we had prepared for it, was looking like it might not work after all, but it was too late for a second take.

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Within a few seconds it was ablaze. Within a few further seconds the bushes around it were ablaze. Mrs. Rumm went running for the hose round the back of the house. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, if a bit over-hot for the camera from what I could see. I removed the camera as Mrs. Rumm arrived back, finding the hose fell short by around thirty feet.

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“We’ll have to bring it through the house!” she whispered and half-screamed, careful not to alarm the children through a growing panic.

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Looking again to see one of the larger bushes halfway missing beneath a crowd of cheering flames I began to agree. The air was now thick with heat and mirage-like shimmering and large white ash flakes falling like snow. The kids had the sense to decamp to the house, barely daring now to look out the window.

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I knew the hose would never reach from the tap in the back garden through the house so I had the great idea to bring it over the house instead. I tried flinging it over the roof a few times, but by now Mrs. Rumm had run inside to fill pots and pans so it was taking too long on my own. I grabbed the folding ladder from the garage for a higher vantage-point and after five minutes clicking, bending and wrestling with that metal frame in a bizarre game of Twister it was finally ready to be mounted.

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“Fear not!” I cried to my missing audience as I climbed a few steps and tossed the majority of the rubber hose at the roof. The topmost-part made it over too, I can assure you, but again I was foiled by my wife’s absence (who else could grab it if I succeeded?), but also now there was another problem: Who would hold the ladder? Mid-swing I had discovered throwing a heavy load of rubber from the top of a ladder isn’t exactly the safest practice… Picking myself up off the floor, I resolved to abandon the ladder and see if I could attach the hose to a sink inside the house.

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By now the flames were eating through everything, licking the outermost area of where I had thought they would go (if I had thought at all). Mrs. Rumm was running hither tither and yon, filling and emptying pots of water in a mad frenzy. I was trying –and failing– to attach the plastic nozzle to the tap. The kids were somewhere in the middle, unsure whether to scream or play dollies.

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Try as I might, this nozzle-end wasn’t going on. My toolbox spilled its guts in the melee, but afforded no solution. Then I remembered another plastic nozzle-end in the garage! Outside the fire cracked on, although now the large bald patch in the middle made it look somewhat more pathetic. Only the extremities were still lighting. And Mrs. Rumm’s pots were beginning to have an effect on those.

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To make a long story short, I finally managed to twist the hose onto the utility-room tap just as I heard the kids cry “mammy says it’s out!”

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Video now up. …This is just the fire part. No acting involved. Five minutes of waiting for it to light cut from the beginning, otherwise no editing…
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I think it all went rather well myself. 🙂

 

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