Monday, June 30, 2008

Fire at the Jewell House

Two nights ago I was awakened by the ceiling fan. The steady hum of the motor was interrupted as the fan spun faster then slower out of rhythm. "Oh great," I thought, "the fan is broken," and went back to sleep. The next morning the lights were shining at half capacity. Life here is very different so we didn't think much of it. A little later I told John I thought something was burning and wasn't sure if it was coming from outside or inside the house. Our windows stay open all night and all day so it's hard to tell.

We searched the house and couldn't find the source so we decided it must be coming from outside. Just as John was coming down the stairs from checking our bedroom there was a loud bang and sparks rained down the stairs and onto the back of his neck. The light fixture on the wall had exploded into fire and a long flame was licking the ceiling (entirely made of wood). John threw a towel over the burning heap on the stairs and I fetched flour to douse the base of the flame. This is what you do when you don't have a fire extinguisher.

John shut down the main breaker and called the electrician who helped us when we moved in. While we were waiting for him to arrive our neighbor called to ask if we were having any electrical problems. He said he tested his outlets and the voltage - which is normally 220 volts in northern Brazil - had reached 380 volts. No wonder our light blew up. The electrician confirmed what our neighbor told us and said the city would have to fix the problem.

We lost an alarm clock, our radio, our cable box, and our washing machine but, thankfully, no one and nothing else was harmed. Between the sunrise at 5:00am and the large rooster population, we can live without the alarm clock. Though we would like to keep up with Fox news election coverage, we can read the local paper. The radio is a bummer but we can listen to music in the car, and since we got our boxes from the States recently, we have a lot more clothes to go through before we absolutely have to do laundry.

Now may be a good time to invest in some smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. We're also thinking about surge protectors but our neighbor assures us they wouldn't hold up against a surge that great. The good news, they say, is that it only happens once in a while. Hearing that makes me glad we didn't buy top-of-the-line appliances.

Thanks to all of you who pray for us regularly. We are very aware that this could have been much worse. Had we been away from home, we might have lost everything. Had we been asleep, we might have lost everyone.


  1. Praise God you are all safe! We bought a smoke alarm in the states and installed it in our house here in Brazil. It has brought some peace knowing that we have something that can make us aware of any fires. Personally, I would recommend you looking into a brand from the states and having it sent or brought from someone. We think of you often. God bless you all.

  2. We are so thankful to the Lord that you are all safe.
    Jonah and Andy look great on the blog pictures.
    Love, Lonnie and Art