Daily Press…“Write about something that you did that you would advise a friend to never do.”
I once built a horse barn from 2” thick rough cut lumber. Being rough cut, it was not dimensionally perfect, in other words 2” “rough” cut meant it was straight from the mill’s saw, no finishing, no making it “exactly” 2” by whatever dimension I needed. It was 2.25” or 2.50” x 4.10”…so the barn was a feat of engineering genius to say the least. It was about 2” out of square when finished, but 2” over a 40’ diagonal was not too shabby for a bunch of amateur barn builders! And you couldn’t tell, unless you put a tape across it, which I doubt you would think to do as you marveled at the heavy duty construction and beauty of this solidly built horse enclosure.
During the process of building the barn we manufactured many, many scraps of wood, little blocks to 3’ long sticks that were unusable due to knots or warps, or just too short to use anywhere. And believe me we used every available piece that was suitable along the process. As we accumulated these scraps we would wheel barrow them by the full lload out to the bon-fire pit in the back yard. Now the pit sat about 50’ from the back door of the house, and was surrounded by rocks that I had rolled into place, making about a 12’ circle of stones. Load by load we dumped these scraps on top of some brush and the pile grew and grew.
One night near the end of the barn construction we decided to burn the bon-fire pit full of scrap wood. We had one issue, it would not light. Thus, David and I applied first some horse hay to try to start the fire. That just wasn’t enough to get things burning. As the crowd watching us grew, the kids came closer and we all discussed how to get the fire going so we could sit around and sip on our beverages of choice while watching the crackling orange and blue flames grow in the darkness. The anticipation for a raging inferno of fire, safely contained within the confines of our stone pit, was palpable amoung our audience. Everyone was getting chilly and wanted warm fire to gather around.
But being the brilliant engineers of our own demise, we decided that gasoline would greatly enhance the burn properties of this large, no mamouth, pile of debris and little blocks. The pile was about 3’ high and almost 10’ around inside of the pit. Yes, folks, we applied about 3 gallons of good old gasoline. Ah, then something happened that we didn’t anticipate. We let the gasoline sit for a few minutes as we gathered things together, and to let it “soak” into the wood…or so we thought was a good idea.
As David lowered to light the lighter and get the fire started I suddenly had an epiphany…the gas can was very near to the fire, I ran as he sparked the lighter, toward the can scooped it up and whisked it away just in time to hear a horrificly loud explosion behind me as I felt my backside being struck by blocks of splintered and burning wood. The gas had built up fumes under the wood pile. When the spark hit those fumes it instantly ignited and lifted the entire HUGE pile skyward, scattering it in all directions like flaming projectiles.
David was blown backwards about 20 feet and his eyebrows were gone. Casey was also blown off his feet and his jacket set afire. I fell to the ground face first after being hit by the projectile wood blocks and everyone else screamed and was totally shocked to see that pile go so high into the air as the gas fumes ignited inside the confines of the little spaces between the blocks. We had basically created our own backyard bomb by mistake.
We were all very lucky to escape with our lives, what we did was very stupid and very dangerous. Never use gasoline to start a fire…for any reason. And remember to leave room between your “kindling” for circulation!
Our house didn’t burn down luckily. Our guest’s son said the most memorable word at the moment after explosion when he yelled “A W E S O M E!!!” Of course, the thought that we MEANT to blow up the pile and almost be killed as he watched from about 50’ away. That explosion will forever be ingrained in his childhood memory bank for sure. He thought it was the coolest thing ever.
My partner just shook her head after she ran out from inside the house to see what I had blown up this time…only a Butch, she said shaking her head…only a Butch.
And that, my friend, is something that I did that I would highly advise that you never do!