Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hell of a day!

So, once a week, I have to open the restaurant that I work at. No big deal, normally. I get up around 4:30am, arrive at work around 5:30 and start to turn things on to warm up for when we open at 6am.

My routine this morning was the same:
Turn off alarm/turn on lights.
Turn on the grills in the kitchen, the toaster, the syrup warmer and the donut machine.
Make coffee.

Then I usually put on my makeup while the coffee is brewing and I wait for my cook and my first server to arrive.

Laura (my server) was a few minutes early this morning, so I didn't actually get a chance to put on my makeup. The moment she walked into the kitchen she yelled my name and said "Why is there smoke back here?" to which I replied, "what are you talking about?" while running into the kitchen.

Sure enough there was smoke, and a lot of it too. There was a horrid burning smell and flame licking up from behind the deep fryer. Laura's yelling about the fire and starting to panic and I'm trying to figure out what the hell is causing the damn fire, so I pull out the fryer. It's hard to see, but there is some sort of hose on fire, so I try looking to make sure there's no flame coming from the fryer itself...nope. Laura's yelling that maybe the red handle on the front of the fryer turns it off...nope again. That handle opens up the drain for said fryer and spills oil all over my shoes and jeans. Damn.

I'm plum out of ideas, and I really didn't want to use the fire extinguisher if I don't have to, so I start calling my boss while I have Laura call 911. We're told to wait outside, just in case it's a gas fire and something explodes... O_O

The first to arrive to the scene was a Downers Grove police officer, who immediately asked for the damn fire extinguisher (a girl can hope, right) which I grudgingly gave to him. I escorted him back to where the fire was and without thinking twice he pulled the pin and aimed. He had to use the entire contents of the extinguisher before the fire finally flickered out. :bigsigh:

Then he just dusted off his hands and went on his merry way, leaving me with the fire department, who had shown up just a minute previously. They checked things out and unplugged some stuff, but ultimately couldn't figure what had started the fire. They left shortly thereafter, saying the health department would be in later today. Great.

So there I stood amidst smoke and the powder from the extinguisher still in the air and a kitchen that looked like it had seen much better days...and we should have opened 15 minutes ago. I had already had to turn customers away, since I didn't know if it was safe or not to let them in. Now I had to turn them away, because I had a kitchen that was literally covered in the fine yellow powder from the damn fire extinguisher. Everything had to be washed. It doesn't seem like much...but when you have a full kitchen...it's overwhelming. The grills had to be cleaned, the floors swept and mopped, and mopped again. Every last dish and utensil that was in the kitchen needed to be cleaned. Every pot, pan, spatula, you name it, it had to get washed...and I still hadn't had my damn coffee.

So I go and pour myself a coffee, still no makeup on, roll up my sleeves and start washing dishes. I washed dishes for an hour and a half...during which I managed to spill my damn coffee down my front :shakeshead: Jimmy came back after having gone home to take a quick shower (I had woken him up when I called him) and the cleaning continued. We weren't really ready to open for business until nearly 8 am.

By 8, I was exhausted, and I still had another 7 and a half hours to go before I could go home. I ended up running next door to Kohl's so that I could at least buy a clean shirt (and put on my makeup while I had a chance). The rest of the day consisted of one inspector after another until we were given the double thumbs up and we could continue business normally.

So, what caused the fire? Freak accident.

The theory is that there was a very small gas leak in the hose that connected the gas line to the fryer. When I turned on the flat grills, the flames apparently shot out towards the back of the grill because they are set up on some type of horseshoe-like coil or something (I still don't quite understand that part). There was enough gas from the leak that the flames from the grill traveled over to the hose and ignited. Everything next to that hose also lit up because of the grease that was behind the fryer.

I'm lucky that we caught it in time, and I'm damn lucky the thing didn't blow up in my face when I was stupidly trying to figure out what was on fire. All that was left of the burnt sections of hose was wire mesh. All of the rubber casing had burned or melted off. It's a miracle, frankly, that the damn thing didn't explode.

I'm still in shock.


SwankyKnitter said...

OMG! That is so awful. I can't believe you stayed all day after that. They couldn't get someone to relieve you after that kind of ordeal?

I hope you're resting now. :hugs:

a bit-knit obsessive said...

Unfortunately, no. I just had to suffer through. Now, I'm baking, which is what I tend to do when I'm stressed and need something to calm me down.

Thanks for the hugs :muah:

Kate said...

I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad that no one was hurt...especially you! You deserve some time off for that one! :MUAH: