Sometimes I amaze myself. I think that by talking about the fire issue here, I managed to figure out the problem with my poorly-built fire. I also think it was due to poorly-placed fire starter. After all my attempts and after all my posts here, I used the torch to start the fire again, but I had it on higher so that it had more gusto and more flame was hitting the wood. So now, I am proud to show you my creation. The door wasn't closed so that air could get in:
Sorry, you'll have to turn your head because even though I caught it straight on, it has decided to go horizontal on me.