I should have known that all of my fire experience with my son would eventually come in handy. My 125 gallon salt-water fish tank caught on fire Monday afternoon, well not the actual fish-tank, but the lights and hood above the tank. I had metal halide lights that are needed to grow coral. The fan that cools them stopped working and they overheated, blew up and caught on fire. Then the wooden hood that they were housed in caught on fire and would have burned my house down if it weren't for my amazing son. He knew exactly what to do. He shut the power off at the main box and managed to get the fire out using the water from the fish tank. For a 19 year old with Aspergers, I think that this is pretty impressive. Of course this has taken some previous life experiences to make this possible.
The first time my son caught the house on fire he was about 7. He decided to make macaroni and cheese for breakfast while I was in the shower upstairs. He knocked a roll of paper towels into the flame of the stove. He put it out with baking soda and then came upstairs to calmly tell me that he had caught the kitchen on fire. I thought that he was exaggerating but I rushed downstairs anyway to check it out. The wall behind the stove, the cabinets next to the stove and the counter next to the stove were black. I had no idea of how he knew to grab that box of baking soda to put the fire out or what made him decide to cook mac and cheese for breakfast in the first place. He had never tried that before. He didn't try to cook again until he was a teenager, but he wasn't done with fire. He drove me nuts for the next few years playing in the fire pit whenever we had a bonfire and he ALWAYS wanted to have a bonfire. He would beg me almost every night to light a fire in the fire pit. He was fascinated with the flames. Now that I have a better understanding of Autism and sensory processing, I kind of get it, but back then, I was sure that I was raising a major pyromaniac.
As a teenager, he loved putting different things into the fire to see what color the flames would turn. He got really into chemistry and would catch the driveway on fire just to see how different chemicals would burn. We were very popular with the neighbors (NOT!). We had to evacuate our house a number of times as it filled with smoke and smoke detectors went off in the middle of the night. I finally convinced him that he couldn't burn anything in the house, my nerves couldn't take it. Luckily he listened, or maybe not....
The worst fire incident was when he had another boy with Aspergers over at our house. Our pontoon boat had been pulled out of the lake and was stored in the yard. The gas tank was partly filled and he and his friend came up with a crazy idea. They filled a Super Soaker water gun with the gasoline and lit the stream with the BBQ lighter. He didn't expect it to work quite so well. He aimed it towards the house and caught the side of the house on fire. A gasoline fire doesn't go out very easily with a hose and it was too far up the side of the house to use a fire extinguisher. Luckily, the gasoline burned itself off and vinyl siding doesn't burn well.
He eventually moved out of this phase and I am happy to report that he no longer does crazy fire experiments. I am so thankful that he was home when my fish tank caught on fire and I am even thankful for all of his learning experiences that allowed him to do exactly the right thing to save my house. I have no doubt that the house would have been burned down if he hadn't been there. Today he is my hero.