Flaming Toaster Oven
I swear this fire was not my fault. I was not trying to burn down the house. I was merely trying to create some cute little creatures out of clay. Fortunately, the main victim was the toaster oven. Now, this was not a toaster oven in the usual sense. It was my designated Fimo toaster oven.
Allow me to explain. As part of my jewelry making addiction, I experimented with Sculpey and Fimo and other polymer clays (although I mainly made cute little zoo animals and mobiles of pregnant women). Once the clay is shaped to its final form, you bake it in an oven. Now, you are not allowed to use an oven where food is actually cooked, because of possible toxic byproducts of the clay. So my husband helped me buy a cheap toaster oven for just my polymer clay.
We had actually just moved, from Atlanta to Alabama (talk about culture shock). I had unpacked most of of my jewelry making and craft supplies, and was of a mind to make something with my polymer clay. I had shaped something (I forget what) and was ready to bake it. The baking is not at such a high temperature, and index cards are frequently used as surfaces for baking small objects. So I put my item on an index card, set the oven for the right temperature and hit Bake.
I went about my business while my piece was baking and soon noticed the smell of smoke. I went to check my toaster oven and there were plumes of smoke curling around the door of the oven. I opened the door and WHOOF, flames shot out at me. So I slammed the door shut and went yelling for my husband. My dear husband was vacuuming downstairs. He claims he could not hear me over the sound of the vacuum cleaner. He finally realized I was shouting something, and to him it sounded like, “Blah blah blah FIRE blah blah blah blah!” When he heard the “fire” part he came a-running. Fortunately he had more of a cool head than I did at that point and he snatched up the oven and ran downstairs with it. He ran out on the back porch and opened the oven and shook it upside down in the bushes. A cascade of burning index papers, dozens of them, fell out of the oven. “Oh, NO!” I told my husband. “Now the neighbors are going to think I’m a terrible cook!” We stamped the flaming cards out and must have looked like we were doing some bizarre rain dance..
So here is what happened. I had stored some of the index cards used for baking in the oven when we moved. The movers, in their infinite wisdom, stored the toaster oven UPSIDE DOWN in the truck. The index cards all fell to the top of the oven, where the heating elements are, and got stuck underneath. So when I loaded up my oven, the cards were stuck in the upper part of the oven, where I couldn’t see. On top of the heating element. So of course they burst into flames when I turned the thing on. That could have been a real mess, but thanks to my quick thinking husband, a house fire was averted. It never would have occurred to me to pick up the oven and run through the house with it, down two flights of stairs. We even managed to salvage the toaster oven for future sorties into the world of polymer clay baking. But you better believe I peer suspiciously into all corners of that oven before I turn it on!