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Ask Flipped: Help! There’s a fire in my decorative wall cutout

How do I put it out? And what if it melts all these marshmallows I have sitting around?

Welcome back to Ask Flipped, where we answer very real questions from readers who are having problems with home decor, design, or anything else. Do you have a question? Write it on a post-it note and throw it into a strong gust of wind. If it was meant to be, we will find the post-it and answer the question.

Dear Flipped,

My house came with one of those decorative wall cutouts — you know, one of the rectangular ones with a patch of brick on the floor around it and a mantle above it. I thought it was cute and never paid it too much mind. But imagine my surprise to come home today and discover that someone had set a fire inside of, and then just left it there!

Obviously I am beyond distraught that anyone — I guess it must have been my wife or one of my kids — would do something so incredibly irresponsible as start a fire inside the house and then just do nothing about it. But, more pressing than that, I need to figure out how to deal with the fire. So far, it has stay inside the wall cutout. It actually seems like the top of the cutout is hollow and the air flow is pulling it upwards, so that’s good. But what if it spreads?

Also, what if it melts all these bags of marshmallows that somebody bought and left lying around? That would be a real mess.

Any advice is appreciated,

A Reader


Dear Reader,

Fire is dangerous, so you did the right thing here by acting immediately and writing a letter to an advice columnist.

Don’t try to put out the fire. The best thing you can do is attempt to contain it, by building a fireproof blockade around your decorative wall cutout. Look around for anything that is non-flammable. Do you have any bags of sand? Can sand catch on fire? Guess you’re going to find out.

Once you’ve surrounded the wall cutout, you won’t be able to tell whether or not the fire is still burning. That’s good because, as they say, "Out of sight, out of mind." But it’s also bad because now you will never be able to remove the blockade for fear of being burned by the fire, which may or may not be ongoing. That’s unfortunate. The blockade is going to become a permanent part of your house, so try to make it pretty. Maybe decorate it with some of the marshmallows?

Hope that helps,


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