(7 October 2000) I made my first Darwin attempt on a chilly Saturday night, all because I noticed some birds flying from the chimney at my Mulberry property. When the house became vacant, I had nailed all the windows shut and turned off the electricity. I decided to chase the birds away with a small fire in the fireplace. It did not occur to me to check whether the flue was open.
I shut and locked the front door because some people outside were riding four-wheelers. I lit the kindling and turned away to toss a plastic ball for my dogs, Jack and Darcie. Soon smoke started pouring into the room.
I tried to open the flue, and spent some time pulling and jerking on the knob, but it was rusted shut. Suddenly I noticed that Jack and Darcie were frantically scratching at the front door, trying to escape from the acrid clouds. I had not realized how much smoke was pouring in, since the house was dark.
I ran to the front door and started pulling on it, but it wouldn't budge. It was locked! I unlocked both locks but the latch on the old screen door was stuck!
I was choking and both dogs were clawing at me when I finally managed to open the window on the screen door and gulp some fresh air. I then ran to the back door, bumbling into walls because the whole house had filled with smoke by then, and all three of us escaped out the back door.
Once I was safely outside, the whole incident was quite funny, but my friends all agree it is probably worth an At-Risk Survivor.
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