Have you ever seen a lamp in your living room burst into flames? This happened to me last night, as I was about to turn out the lights and go to bed. There was a loud crack, the bulb burned out, and flames shot out of the switch.
I was terrified. My first thought: I should swat at the flames to try and smother them, but the only thing in my hand was a newspaper. Some rational corner of my brain kept me from using it. I tried to think what else was in reach. But the flames died out. It was only about 10 seconds, but my heart was racing for some time afterwards.
Even though the fire was out, I frantically pulled out the plug, and moved the lamp away from the outlet, as though mere propinquity could reignite the fire.
And the smell. Whatever it was that burned at the base of the bulb and in the lamp’s switch smelled awful. I put the lamp out by my apartment building’s service elevator, but the smell that lingered in the apartment and the adrenaline of fear and action kept me awake for hours.
Here’s the singed lamp. Looks harmless, doesn’t it.