How I Started a Fire in the Microwave

Mary's picture

How I started a fire in the Microwave

Tab: Home, Family

Topic:  Home Safety, microwave, oven, baking potatoes, fire, smoke, kitchen safety, children

It all started innocently and right off - it was all my fault – operator error, they say…  It goes like this, I exercise and work out once or twice a week at Curves.   At Curves there are little promotions that take place; games, fun goals, things that keep members motivated and interested in doing those ‘darned’workouts again and again. 

The most fun promotions are craft items that are for sale to the customers.  They are home-made, attractive and not too expensive.  I buy some of these items often – for gifts and inspiration for my own creative sewing, which I love to think about, even if I don’t end up making them myself.

One of the crafts I bought was a small, square, padded cotton ‘envelope’, which holds two potatoes. The potatoes are wrapped in paper towels, and inserted into the envelope. Then the entire envelope is put into the microwave and cooked, four minutes on each side.  I followed the printed instructions, so what could go wrong?

The directions say this is supposed to result in the most delicious baked potatoes any one has ever tasted.  So I scrubbed the potatoes, dried them, wrapped each in a paper towel, put them into the cloth packet and placed them in the microwave.  I set it for four minutes, turned it on and noticed that the corners of the packet did not allow the microwave turntable to rotate.  I opened the microwave, adjusted the packet and started it again.   The packed did not move easily, but that was ok – wasn’t it?

I went to the other end of the kitchen to set the table for dinner.  About 3 minutes later, I started to smell… something….. Turning around I saw steam coming out of the top of the microwave – at least I thought it was steam, until I got closer --  Good heavens, it was smoke!!  The microwave was still running, but smoke was pouring out of the top of it and the kitchen was getting cloudy! 

I ran and turned it off, but the smoke kept coming out of the top of the microwave.  I never knew that the top had vents, but believe me, they have vents!   The potato packet was actually on fire.  I quickly grabbed a couple of pot holders and snatched the flaming packet out of the microwave, ran to the door and threw the whole thing out into the new-fallen snow.  It kept burning!The fire did not go out, so I finally covered the whole thing with handfuls of snow and it still smoked for another ten minutes.

I was really most afraid of setting off the smoke detectors, but thankfully that did not happen as I opened the deck door which took the smoke away from the direction of the detector.  After a long ten minutes, the kitchen cleared.   Take a look at the remains of the cloth packet in the attached photo.

The lesson here is pretty simple - what really happened?  The corners of the cloth packet hit the door of the microwave and stopped the turntable from revolving.  They say that microwaves heat unevenly and that is why the turntable is a good thing.  In this case, the corners of the packet got stuck, getting hotter and hotter, until they started to burn. 

The lesson here is:  I should have been more careful, especially when using new materials and methods for cooking.  Regarding microwave ovens, if the turntable cannot turn, stop it and adjust, and if that does not work, just stop.  Try another way.

By the way, I told my adult daughter about this event and when I announced that the microwave was on fire, she said “Really?”  In that tone – the tone that sounds like your child is talking to you like you are three years old.   It is scary when your child assumes the role of the adult in the conversation and you are definitely the child – Yikes!   To her credit, she laughed as hard as I did – later, but the ‘Really’ was a classic, just like her eye roll.   Those darn kids, they just keep growing up!

The potatoes lived, none the worse for wear, they didn’t even burn, and I ate one to prove it.

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

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