On cold, rainy days, our only source of heat in the main cabin was an old pot-bellied stove. However, it can be difficult to light fires when everything is wet, so we often resorted to adding some lamp oil to the wood to help the fire catch.
One summer was particularly windy and wet, and we ran out of lamp oil. To the best of my knowledge, I was the first one to attempt using coleman fuel as substitute.
After carefully laying the fire and pouring on the fuel, and realizing that coleman fuel is explosive, I backed away and tossed a lit match into the open lid. It went out. I tried a couple more times, but the match couldn’t stay lit long enough. Finally I carefully placed the lit match onto the wood, and promptly lost all the hair on my right arm.
The next adventure was Walt’s, although I was there to witness it. He also carefully laid his fire and doused it with coleman fuel. He chose to close the top lid and light the fire by placing a match up to the open vent in the front. Just as he got the match in place, my dog, a beautiful Australian Shepard named Aussie, walked into the cabin. A huge shaft of fire shot out of the front vent, lightly singing poor Aussie, who was somewhat leery of that cabin for the rest of the summer.
I did not learn of the final chapter of this adventure until years later. Walt and I were in the lake swimming. It wasn’t raining, but the winds had been high for days and the waves were fantastic.
Meanwhile, Mom had decided to get a fire going while she cooked dinner. She carefully laid the fire, doused it with coleman fuel, and then realized that she needed to stir dinner. She closed the stove up so that the fuel wouldn’t evaporate into the room, and then accidentally got busy for several minutes in the kitchen.
When she returned, she realized that, coleman fuel being explosive, she should be very careful. So she placed the full ash can on top of the stove to keep the lid from flying open and allowing flames to escape toward the ceiling. She then slightly opened the front vent and placed the lit match to it, keeping well clear of the front, in case of shooting flames.
The resulting explosion blew open the lid. The ash can flew up in the air, turned over and dumped all the ashes into the room.
Now remember, we did not have electricity, so Mom spent I have no idea how long sweeping up the mess. She did such a good job that Walt and I never caught on.