The QB Snap: Buzz from Portland State’s Queen Bee Ryan W. Klute

I do not have a problem–at least not a normal one. My problem has to do with sleeping, and it eventually made fire rain down upon my head, burning the air around me. Let me explain.

I do not have a problem–at least not a normal one. My problem has to do with sleeping, and it eventually made fire rain down upon my head, burning the air around me.

Let me explain.

When I travel, I sleep quite well in hotel beds. When I stay over at a “friend’s” place I always drift off to slumber quite easily. But if I am at home (and this is only when I’m at home), the blankets on my bed must be of a certain weight or I will spend the whole night endlessly tossing and turning.

I must feel like I am being crushed by my blankets to be really comfortable, and this rings true even in mid-August. It’s inconvenient, but it’s true.

I need a minimum of three quilts to sufficiently coddle me, so when I moved out of my parents’ house to go to Portland State, my mom bought me a beautiful, amazingly expensive, king-size down comforter. I loved this comforter.

Inside this innocuous gift were the seeds of flames.

A while back, I was planning on having a little get-together, and during my cleaning, I realized that my comforter smelled less than fresh. Not wanting to go to the dry cleaners, I figured I could do what every college student does from time to time to freshen up his belongings: jam stuff into the dryer with extra dryer sheets.

I pulled the comforter out of the dryer, cautiously giving a preliminary smell. While it was better, it still needed some work. I left it draped over the dryer as I ran upstairs looking for some Febreze. There was no Febreze to be found.

But what I did discover was two, almost entirely full cans of Oust. This seemed like a good alternative, so I headed back downstairs to the laundry room, cans in hand. I kinda sauntered up to the comforter and “drew” the cans from my side, shooting rapid bursts, pulling my arms back and forth in a western gunslinger mode. By the time I was done, I had annihilated my comforter with massive amounts of Oust. I stuffed it back in the dryer.

When I got it all the way in, I realized that I had a little Oust left, and decided I should just finish it off. I emptied the cans onto the blanket in the dryer.

This is where, in retrospect, I learned two important lessons: a) dryers work by forcing air over heated coils, such as those on a stove-these coils are very hot and take some time to cool down. b) Oust is flammable (and it says so on the label).

I also learned later it was from the combination of confined space in the dryer and the thorough soaking of the comforter that caused the explosion. I’m not sure if it was specifically the fireball, the force of the explosion or my sheer terror that sent me flying backward into the laundry room onto piles of flammable clothing, but I vividly remember releasing both Oust cans from my hands and watching them spiral over my head in slow motion, spraying fresh-scented fire in their wake. It was raining fire.

It only took me a moment to smell this “rain” and realize what it was made from thousands of burning goose feathers that moments ago had been inside my much-loved comforter.

I momentarily took my attention away from the floating firebombs drifting gently down toward all my clothes, and saw the inferno that was pouring out of the dryer. Thinking quickly (or thinking at all for the first time that evening), I kicked the dryer door closed, extinguishing the flames.

I began patting out the mini-fires that burned all around me. I went and grabbed an extinguisher, returning to assess the damage.

I noticed that the majority of the black, horrible-smelling smoke was seeping from the seams of the dryer. I readied the extinguisher and quickly opened the dryer.

This is where I learned another lesson about fire: When reintroducing oxygen to a smoldering fire ripe with accelerant, only one reaction is inevitable. And that was the second explosion of my evening.