Before I relay the following (LONG) story...keep in mind I've lived in Florida all my life. I'm not horribly experienced with fireplaces.
So I ride the bike home from work last night in slush (mixed snow/rain). I'm cold and wet and as I'm parking the bike in the garage, I think....."a nice time to test out this fireplace". The house I'm in has a fireplace, but I haven't made a fire in it yet. I grab a little wood and head in.
I'm not that familiar with fireplaces, but I'm not completely ignorant. I knew you had to open that chimney hole cover thingy (flu? damper?). I look up in top of fireplace and see a lever that opens it if I pull it toward me. I noticed a hole drilled in the bottom of this metal lever. I figure its designed to hook the lever on something. I feel around and for the life of me can't find anything to hook it on.
So I manage to wedge it on a little brick ledge there. It seems wedged pretty good, so I didn't think there would be a problem with it staying there. I get to work building a fire. I find its also the perfect way to get rid of mail that I wanted to shred. I manage to get a small but respectable fire going.
Now I'm sitting on the couch a few feet away talking to my girlfriend on the phone for about 10-15 minutes when I suddenly notice the smoke is coming out of the fireplace and not going up. I run over and check and sure enough the lever came loose and closed the cover thingy.
Well there's no way I can get my hand up there to open it and wedge it again as now the flames are close enough to the lever height that I'll burn my arm and I know the lever will be hot. I grab a fire extinguisher as smoke is now getting kinda thick in the living room. I put the fire out, but it keeps smoking.
I start opening windows to try get smoke out (did I mention rain/snow?). As I'm doing this I'm realizing the reason the fireplace is still billowing out smoke as the fire is still smoldering at bottom. I grab a few bowls full of water to put the fire out. I think its out, but now the main part of the house is so filled with smoke we (me and the dogs) need to get out of the house.
So I pack them into truck and "go for a drive". However, the snow picked back up and now its pretty snow covered. Again, I'm from Florida and not used to driving in snow, so I realize very quickly its probably better if I don't drive around too much in it. I stop in a parking lot, grab dinner now at a fast food joint (would have done sit down, but didn't want to leave dogs alone in cold truck). We wait and hour, and go back.
Now it looks mostly clear. I try to fan out any remaining smoke, but leave the windows open for a while. I'm watching some TV and "just" decide to close that living room window (as I'm starting to feel the draft). A minute or so after I do, I realize that there is smoke coming out of fireplace again. I see a deep red area (about size of baseball) and realize there was still a smoldering spot. I run to grab a bowl of water and by time I got back it was a flame again. I put that out and relaxed for a bit again.
Before I went to bed, I got a poker and spread all the wood in there around so it wasn't touching each other and allowed any smoldering spots. Then used a few more bowls of water to make sure each piece was well doused. Blocked off living room so dogs couldn't sleep in there and die of smoke inhalation in case it somehow started up again.
What a freakin' night last night was. Welcome to KT's Smokehouse. Place your order at the door.