I was reading some blogs this morning and Sixbears was talking about chimneys and chimney fires. That got me thinking back over all the wood burning methods that I have used to heat my homes and warm our hearts. Have had different fireplaces and wood burning stoves. The stoves are more efficient but the fireplaces are more aesthetic.
The last home I owned in Pennsylvania was a seven room ranch house with a huge living room with a huge fireplace made from native stone and a cast iron fire box as part of the heatolator. The living room was large, over 15 by 30 feet and the fireplace would take up to four foot long logs. I mostly burned Wild Cherry and Apple wood when available. Sometimes, had to supplement the wood pile with Oak. Wild Cherry was by far the best and safest wood to burn.
The hearth was about 18 inches above the floor, allowing room below and off to the side for the cold air heatolator vents. This gave the air flowing through the heatolator a longer contact path with the hot cast iron fire box. The stone chimney had three flues. The largest one for the fireplace and the other two smaller ones for the gas furnace and water heater that were in the basement. The top of the chimney had a stone slab across it, held up by six stones to allow the smoke and gas to escape, but prevented rain and snow from getting into the chimney.
One morning I was just starting to get dressed for work and my wife usually brought me in a glass of orange juice. She started in with it and I heard her scream and start running down the hall toward the bedroom. I opened the door just in time to get the glass of cold orange juice spilled all over me. All my wife could do was point to the living room. I ran out there with nothing on except my under pants, not knowing what the heck I was going to find. And there it was, an owl sitting on the back of the love seat. My wife had seen it flying around the room and it scared her half to death.
I walked slowly over to it, got it watching my one hand. I slowly moved the hand it was watching to the opposite side and then I grabbed it with the other hand. That was a mistake!! Within the few seconds it took me to throw it out the front door, it had my hand and arm bleeding pretty good.
I assumed what had happened was this. Fire was not quite out when we went to bed so left the flue opened. Furnace was running so it would put heat up the chimney and the owl probably sat up there to get warm and the gas fumes from the furnace or hot water tank got to it and it passed out and fell down the chimney. By then the fire was out, so it flew around the room looking for a way out when my wife spotted it.
Has anything like that ever happened to you?