Last night, Erica and I were having a late supper. On several recommendations we had gone to see Playtime at the Musicbox. It was great, by the way. I usually have an attention span of about 3 seconds, and I complain and complain about how slow old movies are, but I sat enraptured through long slow takes of very little happening at all (and other shots where so much is happening that you're not sure what to look at).
Anyway, we didn't even start cooking until 11 pm. I threw some burgers on the grill and grated some pepper jack (Tillamook pepper jack, which is also great. I remember when Tillamook cheddar showed up in Chicago a few years ago and I'm happy that more varieties of Tillamook are available here now) over some torilla chips and stuck them in the oven on broil.
And we got talking and yakking and I flipped the burgers once and, hey, I almost forgot about the nachos.
When I opened the oven door, cartoony flames shot out half a foot in my direction. AAAAAA! I slammed the oven door shut. Whadda I do? Whadda I do? OK, turn off the oven. Done. OK, let's get that pan out of there. Turn on the sink and grab some hot pads and open the oven door again. Flames! AAAAA! Slam. Now smoke was starting to bubble out of the burners on the stove. And the smoke alarm went off. Well, good to know that works. Fire extingusher! OK, it's got some sort of seal on it, good thing this isn't an emergency, I'd be dead by now. There, got it. Open oven door. Whoosh. The fire's out but there's still smoke everywhere.
And now there's another alarm going off out in the back stairwell. Great. Did I set off someone else's smoke alarm? And now the smoke alarm on the oven starts going off. Great job, oven. I set up a fan to blow the smoke out of the kitchen and sure enough in a minute the smoke alarm in my place went out. But the alarm in the stairwell was still going. Great. We all just moved into this building and I've been trying to make a good impression on the neighbors. A loud alarm at 11:30 pm is probably not the best way to do that.
I went out into the stairwell to look. There was a loud mechanical bell alarm in a box at the bottom of the stairwell. There were no switches visible to turn it off. The four units in my building all have alarm systems that the previous owner had installed and Shaun and I hadn't bothered figuring it out because we didn't plan on using it. But I guess the fire alarm in my unit had triggered it. But how to turn it off? I went down into the common area and found a box labeled "Norshore Alarm", the same name as on the security system in our unit. Amd it was even clicking in rhythm with the alarm. And it was locked. But it had phone numbers on it -- I ran back upstairs and grabbed a phone. "The number you have reached has been disconnected." Crap. (I didn't try this until today, but the "Contact Us" link on their website is also a 404. Good job, Norshore.)
When in doubt, brute force is always an option. So I took the alarm box apart and disconnected the alarm. It took a really long, loud time to get all the screws off the cover plate. And of course I took all the screws off in the wrong order so the alarm fell inside and the box and made different loud klaxons. But, finally - silence, blessed silence.
Oh, and the burgers? Erica saved the burgers.
P.S. If you have an oven fire, don't actually bother opening the oven. Just turn it off and wait for it to burn out.
P.P.S. I just realized that my little oven fire was literally a three-alarm fire.