I Didn’t Start The Fire…

a-campfireYep, the Billy Joel song from 1989 has been rolling through my mind for almost 3 weeks now.

Why? Because I have a warped sense of humor and we had a small kitchen fire. It wasn’t too terrible, but did scorch up the hideous Pepto Bismal® pink laminant counter top and back splash I’ve had to endure for the better part of 15 years, since we bought the house. I’ve spent years hating this stuff and daydreaming of how I’d remodel the kitchen.

So, you might think I “accidentally” started the fire that would get it replaced, wouldn’t you? I mean, I had motive, right? 

But note the tile of my blog. I didn’t start the fire. Nope. Wasn’t anywhere near when it happened.

Turns out poor Jazzman did. He thought he’d turned on the burner under the tea kettle and walked away. 20140327_172343Unfortunately, the burner in question was under a cutting board. Next thing we knew, we heard this odd popping sound. We both ran in and Flames were shooting up the wall. OMG! But Jazzman got it put out fairly easily, but not before enough damage was done to cause us to have to replace the counter top and backsplash. (See charred pink crap over there—>)

Well, you can’t just replace one countertop. They have to match. And if you’re going to retile one side of the kitchen backsplash, you have to do both, right? And if  you’re getting rid of the pink crap, you can get rid of the 1980’s pink and blue flowered wallpaper and paint it a crisp color…oh and the 70’s paneling, and paint the cabinets.

Granite-Tan-Brown-Kitchen-and-Bathroom-Countertop-ColorNow, because of my obsessive hours of watching remodeling and house makeover shows, I had a good idea what we should do, what we shouldn’t. What we could do to update the room and yet keep to a reasonable budget. (I asked Jazzman what he thought was reasonable and did my best to work inside it. You’d be impressed how close I came!)

Once I got Jazzman (who was beating himself up pretty badly over the fire) inSomerTile-Reflections-Subway-Tundra-Glass-Stone-Mosaic-Tile-Pack-of-10-P13999058 the mode to remodel, (he’d already contacted the Insurance adjuster and had contractors lined up to give us estimates–I was amazed),  what really surprised me was how easily we could agree on things like….the tiles, which I wanted subway glass and he found this really cool pattern of pale copper, medium dark brown and two shades of pale green…the granite countertop, which has black, brown and a bit of orange to bring out the copper in the tiles…and new hardware for the pulls and hinges. I still have to pick out paint color but have a few weeks to think about it.

Now, be careful when you start a fire. Things can quickly get engulfed in the process. What am I talking about?

20140324_123217See, we’ve needed to remodel our main bathroom for quite some time, too.  Once Jazzman got into the mood to remodel stuff, he took on the main bathroom, too. Since it was going to take a few weeks to get the granite ordered and shipped for the kitchen, the bathroom is actually getting done first! We picked out…modern 12×12 porecelain stone tiles and 6×6 ones to make a diamond border 2/3 up the shower wall…a more neutral but darker wall paint and creme brulee colored trim and cabinets. 

This week the work started in the bathroom, which is on the other side of my office wall. 20140326_184827Lots of banging, dust, odd chemical smells for the mastic and lots of men coming in and out of the house. Poor Rusty has been beside himself with anxiety. (He is a 5 month old puppy after all.) Mostly he’s glued to my side or under my desk sleeping on my feet or staring out the office window to see what the men are doing next. Tiles are going up today and all the walls and cabinets have been prepped for paint as soon as the shower is done. 

And what am I doing through all this?

Working on the new book, which just happens to be about a scarred firefighter and the woman he once loved. Coincidence or fate? Remember that popping sound Jazzman and I heard? We heard it long before we smelled smoke. Something I plan to use somewhere in the book. The demolition? Well, Deke and Libby have a few old mistakes, hurt feelings and bad choices to tear down before they can begin laying down their new tiles and add paint to their HEA!

So what about you? Ever have a house fire? Small or bigger and more scary than mine, (which was truly scary enough for me!)? Is there a room in your house you’d like to take a sledge hammer to? What would you put in a new bathroom or kitchen? 


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  • flchen1 says:

    So happy you’re fine and that you can ponder how to update now, Suz! As for us, blessed to be fire free thus far… Our house is still pretty new, so no desires to remodel anything yet… except maybe adding some more bookshelves! 😀 One can never have too many of those!

    • Hey Fedora!

      Yes, we were very lucky. I’m having a blast picking out stuff, but we can only do this once, so the pressures on to do it right! And you’re right. One can never have enough bookshelves!

  • Amy Conley says:

    My kitchen id the answer to all your questions! Unfortunately when the fire began in there, I was wearing the t-shirt which caused the fire; my Salem, Mass Salem Witch Trials 300 Anniversary tee. Worst or strangest part, the tee had caught on fire before, while I was wearing it!

    • OMG, Amy!

      I think that shirt might be cursed. You sure you should ever wear it again?

      • Amy Conley says:

        Nope. Everyone keeps trying to get me to throw the tee-shirt away and/or stop wearing it and I keep refusing. Until I can get back to Salem and get a new tee, that one will remain here.

  • Helen says:


    I am glad that everything has worked out for you it would have been scary having a fire in the kitchen luckily we have not had one but I have had a new bathroom and kitchen many years ago and I would dearly love a newer kitchen LOL but it is a small one and not a lot I could do with it 🙂

    BTW I have just finished reading Vanished and WOW what a great story thank you so much for writing it and I am looking forward to the one you are writing now 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Hey Helen!

      It was scary enough for me, that’s for sure. And while I’m thankful to be getting new rooms because of it, I pray we never have another one.

      Thank you for buying and reading VANISHED. So glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully the next Westen series book will be out this summer some tme.

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I have had a couple of very small kitchen fires, pans flaming up and stopping my heart for a second or two.
    About 12 years ago I was woken in the middle of the night by pounding on my door, there was a car on fire next to my house, the heat cracked my windows and melted the siding on my house. That was more than enough excitement for me.

    One night here where I live now there was a lot of noise and light, when I looked out the house across the street was on fire, someone had thrown a “cocktail” on the porch.

    I would love to have kitchen and bath both redone but both rooms are very small and there just isn’t a lot to be done for either one.

    • OH Wow, Dianna!

      You’ve had more than enough of your fair share of fires!! And that’s ubber scarey that someone threw a “cocktail” on someone’s house. Talk about terror!! Glad you’ve always come out okay.

      • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

        I am truly thankful, the first time with the car next door it was the middle of the night, I grabbed my son and went to my mother’s room and she said it’s okay, it will go out. I could see the flames through her bedroom window, she slept on the side of the house next to the neighbor’s driveway. She was half asleep and not cooperating at all. After I got her in her wheelchair and my boy to the front door I literally pulled my doorframe off trying to get the chain lock off and the door open. It is amazing how strong you can be when you think it is necessary. I picked her chair up one handed and tossed it off the porch. Way, way too much excitement in the middle of the night.

  • Susan Sey says:

    Suz, I’m SO JEALOUS of your bathroom remodel! (We did our kitchen countertops, floor & cabinet faces a couple of years ago, so I’m okay there, though there’s this WALL I would dearly love to sledgehammer out of the way of my view…ahem. I disgress.)

    I am considering setting fire to my bathroom, however, in service of a shower retile. I painted the whole room a violent purple several years ago, thinking it would light a virtual fire under Mr. Sey, to no avail. Turns out he’s a fan of bold color & enjoys our purple bath.


    That said, we did purchase a coffee table yesterday on a whim after about two years of looking. The intersection between our taste in decor is razor thin. Everything we buy therefore has to be both well built, cheap & mission-style. Tough to come by, but our new coffee table was a floor model & on deep discount. So….yeah. We pulled the trigger.

    It took us five years to buy a couch. We’re just awesome that way.

    Enjoy all your new beautiful rooms! I fully expect pictures the next time you post a recipe, so we can see you cooking in that beautiful space!

    • Hey Susan!

      Purple bathroom? Okay, you know I’m in love with the color purple on my new book cover, but would I want to look at a purple bathroom daily? Uhm…no. You and Mr. Sey have great frotitude!!

      Yippee on the new coffee table. The Jazzman and I aren’t ones to go out and quickly buy furniture either, unless it’s electronic in nature, so I understand your dilemma!

      The tiles in the bathroom look great so far. They just have to put the sealer on it…the we commence to painting!!

      I will definitely post updated pictures when it’s all done! Even one with me cooking in my new kitchen!

  • Shannon says:

    My house fire was terrifying. Our electricity had gone out in an ice storm. My husband had a court date for a serious traffic offense that the lawyer said he could get reduce so we had to get out no matter what. I picked up a candle, splashed hot wax on my hand, dropped the candle on the lamp which went up in flames, big licking tendrils of yellow and smoke. My husband picked up the comforter and smothered the flames while I went for the kitchen fire extinguisher.

    My hand was throbbing and oozing, but we went to court where my husband got off with a warning. We then went to the doctor where he fixed my hand as best he could and wished me good luck on a couple of days of pain, saying that since I didn’t want narcotics most regular pain killers do little for the pain from burns.

    • OH Shannon, that is very terrifying!! And burns really are painful and only really respond to narcotics for any kind of relief. We used to use a cream called silvedeen on them when I trained in the children’s burn unit.

      I am sooo sorry you had to go through that and pray you never, ever have another one!

  • Cassondra says:

    Suz, so awesome that you’re getting a new kitchen and bathroom. The two “money” rooms in the house. I don’t know how you lived with the pink if you hated it that long. If something is bugging me like that, I’ll end up with a hammer and crowbar in my hands, pounding at it, before I even know I’ve started. I’m fixin to change out the tile on the countertops too, and keep looking for a span of time when I know I can get it done in one weekend. Can’t seem to get that.

    • Cassondra,

      I lived with the pink crap for so long because we never could afford to change it until now. The fire was just the impedous to get Jazzman to agree it needed to be done.

      HE loves the 1970′s look for our house! Me? Not so much, but I’m fixing it one or two rooms at a time. Our bedroom and Masterbath are next on my hit list…Maybe next year!

  • Anna Sugden says:

    So glad you’re all safe and that you get a remodel out of it, Suz!

    We’re about to replace our boiler and with it the crappy/shoddy plumbing in our lovely house. That means redoing our master bathroom *g*. We were at the builders’ merchants just yesterday checking out tiles and fittings. We’re getting rid of the bathtub and replacing it with a lovely walk-in shower. Our colour scheme is blue and white, with red accents.

    Next year, I’d love to tackle the kitchen. The problem is that there really isn’t anything wrong with it. I’d just like to make it work better for us … and you know how it is, once you start looking at these things! 🙂

    • Anna,

      First can I say how much I love the word “shoddy”? It sounds so British and quite classy to say something is shoddy. 🙂

      But thank goodness you get to fix the plumbing and remodel the bathroom!! The changes in my bathroom so far have been wonderful. Can’t wait to see what happens next. 🙂

    • OOOOOH Anna, I forgot to mention…

      The Jazzman and I discussed the master bath while we were looking at remodeling, and he wants to tear out the tub in there and make it a walk in shower, which I’m so for…when we get around to that room!

      Who knew Jazzman would take to remodeling so well?

  • catslady says:

    Maybe I need to set my kitchen on fire because we can’t afford to remodel lol. I have a galley kitchen and it’s old. Problem for us is the sizes of our dishwasher and stove are different so there is no small remodeling – everything would have to be changed.

    We did remodel our main bathroom and I’m happy with that.

    • Catslady,

      The Autumn before last we had to replace our 45 year old double oven. Since we weren’t redoing the cabinets we had to search for one that fit the small hole in the old cabinet. There were only 2 that fit the measurement, but I found one and I really like it!!

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Catslady, that was always my issue with my kitchen. Circa 1972 stove, circa 1980 dishwasher…and circa 1959 built-in-place cabinets. If the stove or dishwasher went, it was remodeling time! Grins.

  • Deb says:

    Suz, so glad you and the Jazzman are okay. Scary stuff. But, yay on the remodeling. I can sympathize with you because I have the ugliest laminate gray and pink counter top and backsplash with copper trim from when the house was built in 1960. Yuck, yuck, and yuck. We just don’t have the funds right now to replace them or the ugly carpet.

    We haven’t had a fire, but…well, five years ago, the neighbors thought we did. Let me set the scene. Hubby had just got home a day before from hospital from having a heart attack. It was January 4th about 5 p.m. with the last rays of the sun hitting the roof of the house. The neighbor gal burst into our front door and yelled, “Your roof is on fire!” (She and her husband were outside, talking to the other neighbor in their drive after getting home from somewhere.) Talk about panic, but she had already called 911 and our little fire department was up here almost immediately. After checking everything from basement to attic, it was determined that the rays of the sun had hit the heat waves from the chimney furnace and flared out like flames. And, since it was still Christmas break, the firemen all stood around chatting after everything was A-okayed. 🙂

    • Ew Debbie! Your gray and pink with copper trim sounds as bad as my pepto bismal pink!! Here’s wishing you are able to replace it soon!!

      LOL, I’m laughing about the sun making your neighbor think your house was on fire. Glad the scare didn’t send your hubby back to the hospital though! And smiling at the firefighters hanging out to chat for a bit afterwards!

  • EC Spurlock says:

    Yikes, Suzanne! I bet that was a scare! I’m glad you are both OK and didn’t lose anything you didn’t want to get rid of in the first place.

    We luckily haven’t had any disasters (yet) but we do have a lazy landlady who made a deal with us that if we did all the maintenance on the house we could deduct any money we invested from the rent. When we moved in, everything was original to the house from when it was built in 1972. So far we have replaced the ugly, torn 70’s brown-and-mustard linoleum in the kitchen (seriously, if you dropped anything while you were cooking you wouldn’t find it again until you stepped on it), the equally torn linoleum in both bathrooms, all the mustard-colored kitchen appliances as they died one by one, fixtures in both bathrooms and the medicine chest in one, six window screens (custom built – they don’t come in that size anymore), Innumerable toilet innards, three shower heads, the water heater (twice) and who knows how many gallons of paint and rolls of wallpaper. We drew the line at replacing the carpets and we are still waiting for the promised roof repair. She did replace the AC unit when it died – then promptly raised our rent to cover it. Still can’t replace the closet sliding doors the previous tenants broke or the shutter that blew off in a hurricane because they just don’t make ’em that size anymore.

    And I love those glass tiles too! I make pendants out of them and sell them in my Etsy shop. 🙂

  • Hey, Suz, if a little kitchen fire ultimately means you’ll write faster, then by all means, get out the matches. (Hee hee!) Because I’m waiting anxiously for your next book, duh!

    I’m so happy you’re getting a new kitchen and bathroom, even at the cost of that scary fire and Jazzman’s guilt . 🙂 It’s all going to be beautiful. Congrats!

    My house burned down when I was seven and it was really traumatic. Luckily, we were out of town at the time, but coming back to see the damage was horrible. I still remember the awful smell. It’s not like anything else. And I can still see the surface of the appliances, especially the refrigerator, once a pristine white, now covered with blackened bubbles where the paint boiled off. Ick. So … all things considered, you’re lucky duck! Enjoy the new room!

    • Hey Kate!!! I was just looking at my TBR pile and your Cookbook Conspiracy is like the second one down…which means I get to read it soon!! YIPPEE!!

      Which book of mine are you waiting for? VANISHED is out…the next one won’t be til this summer…if I get my butt in gear and get it written! 🙂

      Yikes, I’m glad you and your family weren’t there for such a horrendous fire! That would be devestating to come home and find such a disaster!!

      We were lucky on the smell. About 8 years ago Jazzman and his brother put a hallway attic fan in our house. We turned it on and it immediately sucked all the smoke out of the house! Hardly any soot remained, but enough that the insurance company recommended we have a cleaning team come out to do clean it up…

      Ahem…yet another perk…3/4 of my house is sprakling clean . hehehe

      And the Jazzman’s guilt? Yeah, I’m trying not to gloat.

      • I’m almost finished with HUNTED (no spoilers!) and then I’m going to jump into VANISHED. I’m hooked on the Edgars! So…I’ll need the new one soon! No pressure. LOL

        • I’m having a fangirl moment here, knowing you are reading my books! 🙂 Seriously!

          **Don’t forget there’s a novella between HUNTED and VANISHED…and it does lead into VANISHED.**

  • Suz, so glad nothing major was damaged in the fire, including you. And I LOVE the renovations you’re doing. Those tiles in different colors look fabulous. You won’t know yourself when it’s all done! I had a fire here last year – I turned on the griller to make toast, went off to check emails while it heated up, and forgot about it. Flames were shooting everywhere. Got a bit of charring on the walls but luckily nothing more major. Your heart just pounds when you see the flames, though, doesn’t it?

    • Anna,

      I can’t take credit for the tiles. I had to explain and show Jazzman on line what I was talking about. He’s the one who found those at the store and showed me. I was like, “Yes!”

      Am sorry about your kitchen fire. You’re right. Flames shooting up the wall when they’re not supposed to be is quite scary. Of course the only time flames should be shooting up in a kitchen is when a trained chef is making Bananas Foster…IMHO!!

  • Becke says:

    Wow! A fire is a scary thing. I’ve never been in one. My grandson caught a towel on fire and ran in to tell Mommy about the fire. No damage, but scary.

    I redecorated when we moved in. That was a first. In most of our homes, we redecorated to sell. Kind of backward since we didn’t get to enjoy it.

    I have a shower stall I’d like to have tiled. Don’t know if I’ll put in the time or money, but it’s fun to fantasize.

    Love those little multicolored tiles. They look wonderful installed.

    o what about you? Ever have a house fire? Small or bigger and more scary than mine, (which was truly scary enough for me!)? Is there a room in your house you’d like to take a sledge hammer to? What would you put in a new bathroom or kitchen?

    • Hey Becke!

      I’m glad you’ve never had a fire and that your grandson wasn’t injured!! It was scary, but Jazzman had it out rather quickly.

      We discussed the multi colored little tiles, you know the 1×1 inch squares. I told Jazzman under no uncertain terms we weren’t getting those. They look cute, but I WASN’T cleaning them!! He agreed. Smart man! 😉

  • Thank goodness no one was hurt and the damage was minor!

    My brother caught the stove on fire when I was about 12 years old. He was making a grilled cheese on top of the gas stove and walked away. I was in the livingroom, heard him and our cousin swearing and ran into the kitchen to see a skillet, 2 pot holders and a kitchen towel on fire. And they’re trying to pull the hose in the house from the backyard to put it out! Sheesh!

    Twenty or so years ago a heat lamp caught fire in my reptile room. I woke up to the sound of screaming smoke alarms. The lamp was smoldering on the wooden floor producing lots of smoke. Fortunately some of my former students were spending the night and they helped me to carry the reptile habitats outside onto the porch. One poor guy was standing out there with my 13 foot python wrapped around him under his jacket because it was February and freezing cold. Didn’t take long to clear out the smoke, but I did have a round hole in my floor!

    • Louisa,

      Have you noticed that kitchen fires usually start because someone “walked away”?

      Now I’m not sure which distrubs me more, the fact that you had a fire from a heat lamp that burned a hole in the floor OR that you have a REPTILE ROOM. Seriously. 😀

      • LOL, Suzanne ! I I actually had two reptile rooms at one point, but the last of my reptiles passed away about 8 years ago after over 20 years with me. Big Mama was a 13 foot / 100 pound Burmese python. I had all sorts of snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles and tortoises for many, many years. Old age eventually took them away (Many of them were castoffs from owners who had them a long time and then suddenly realized they were too much trouble or too big to handle.)and they also became a bit more work than I could handle so after Big Mama I never got another. Those heat lamps can definitely burn through wood, as I found out!

  • Minna says:

    Well, I’ve been in a house fire some years ago. Somebody had managed to set their bed on fire in the 1st floor (he had probably fallen asleep with a burning cigar -and smoking inside wasn’t even allowed in the building). I lived in the second floor. I woke up when I heard the guy running and screaming in the staircase. First I thought how an earth can someone be that drunk on early thursday Morning, but then I heard the the fire trucks and realised they were not just driving past the building where I lived, like they usually did (the fire station was really close to my home back then). Fortunately the fire hadn’t spread from the flat in the downstairs, but the staircase was like the inside of a chimney by then, but it was the only way out. I’m glad that now I live in the 1st floor and there are 2 ways out of here if there’s ever a fire.

  • Joan Kayse says:

    Well, I’m surprised you didn’t..cause you write such “hot” scenes 😀

    That said…I envy you your remodel. Sigh….my house is 23 years old and the kitchen in particular is horrid! The cabinets are low grade plywood, no hardware and currently taped shut to prevent Grayson exploration…..and pfft. Backsplash? My builder evidently was not a subscriber to “nice ways to build a kitchen”…

    Make sure your remodel includes a space for an extinguisher

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Hey Suz! I’m so glad the fire was relatively minor and that neither you nor Jazzman (nor the pup!) were hurt! Things can be replaced, people cannot.

    We’ve not had any notable fires – some seriously charred pans, and some minor, throw-flour-on-it-quick grease flare ups, but fortunately minor.

    I have, however, remodeled the kitchen. As I mentioned in Catslady’s post, when the stove went…well that was it. No modern stove would fit in the small space and if you had to take THAT cabinet out, it meant taking all the cabinets out. I wish I were exaggerating for effect, but I’m not. Ha! It was a pain in the arse, but OMGosh I ADORE my kitchen!! I’ve also done a major addition, but that’s another thing. Grins.

    Rooms I’d still like to sledgehammer: the Carolina blue hall bathroom. The sink is blue. The tile is blue. The TOILET is blue. The tub is blue. Carolina, robins egg, bright blue. Seriously eye-popping. Grins. I like blue but not quite that shade, nor in that quantity. It’s also showing the wear and tear of 55 years of service. :>