Edmonds Floretum Garden Club monthly general meetings are not known for excitement and high drama. Dominated by discussions of gardening, club business, service projects and scholarship funds, they are generally pretty tame, predictable affairs.
But all that changed Monday morning as the club’s December potluck meeting got underway in City Hall’s third-floor Brackett Room. More than 75 members were in attendance, most arriving with bowls of tempting salads, tray after tray of to-die-for desserts, and delicious casseroles, all home-made of course. Food was spread out on tables, with hot dishes placed first in the Brackett Room warming oven to bring them up to proper temperature.
It was then that things went awry.
“What’s that smell?” someone said. Then “oh my gosh, there’s smoke coming out of the kitchen!”
The City Hall smoke alarm system took over from there, automatically relaying the signal to fire dispatchers and setting off the alarm to evacuate the building.
“The elevator shut down the minute the alarm was triggered, so we all took the stairs,” said Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty, as he, Mayor Dave Earling and the rest of the building staff followed their well-practiced emergency protocol and calmly gathered across the street.
In moments the sound of sirens filled the air as fire equipment pulled up in front of the building and firefighters in full gear raced through the door. “They wanted to check out the situation before snaking hoses in,” added Doherty.
The culprit according to Floretum’s Marty Ronish, who organized the potluck: a cauliflower-Parmesan casserole that bubbled over onto the warming oven heating element.
It only took a few minutes for firefighters to declare the building safe to reoccupy, sending workers back to their desks and Floretum members back to their potluck.
Earling, ever the fiscal conservative, was overheard joking that perhaps Floretum should be billed for the lost staff time.
And the casserole in question? After a quick inspection it was brought out to the buffet table, where all who tried it proclaimed it “delicious.”
— By Larry Vogel