Yesterday I was driving my kids home from school and saw a little bit of smoke on the block next to ours. Instead of turning left onto our street I went up a block and turned right, circling the block. As I came up our street I had just commented to the kids that it must have been a truck because I didn’t see smoke anymore when the flames in the back corner of a house caught my eye and at that same moment a boy of about 9 came running a across the yard waving his arms at me yelling “Fire!”
I slammed on the brakes and jumped out with my cell. “Do you live here?” I asked. “No, I live behind,” he replied. “Have you called 911?” “We’re calling now..what is this street name?” I told him the name and he ran part way back and yelled it. I yelled the house number to him as well. He came running back and I asked if anyone was home. He didn’t think so but he thought they had a dog. “But the door is already hot,” he told me. I ran up and started banging on the door, he was right, it was very warm. The blinds were closed but I couldn’t see any movement and I couldn’t hear anything.
We ran back on the side where the fire was burning..the flames were getting larger. I asked if anyone was home on that side, he didn’t know. I ran over there and banged on the door, no answer. A neighbor from the boy’s street joined us in front of the burning house. I asked if she knew the homeowner or any of the neighbors. She didn’t know them either. Together we ran up to the house on the non-burning side and banged on the door, again, no answer.
At that moment a police officer arrived. We told him what we knew so far (not much..no answer on any of the doors) and he asked me to move my car up. I pulled up a few houses and told my kids to get out from in front of the house..the fire department would be there in a minute. By this point the fire had jumped the 2-3 feet from the corner of the house and spread to the fence between the two houses. Another officer had arrived and asked us (several neighbors had joined us at that point) to start clearing the area and getting cars out. I pulled my car up to my block and ran back. At that point the fire truck arrived and one of the firemen either broke a window or opened a door but the entire street between the rows of houses filled with thick, black smoke. All of us ran to my block, trying to breathe.
From that point on more trucks arrived, more neighbors, the street was block off and the water started flowing. The house on fire was a one-story and at one point the flames were higher than the two-story beside it. With the light wind, the two-story house was being deluged with water to prevent it from catching on fire. It took about an hour to subdue the fire. The house was almost completely destroyed with not much other than the outer brick walls remaining.
At one point I saw the firefighters carrying a large object covered with a blue tarp to the yard beside. With horror I realized it was a dog crate. Soon after Animal Control arrived and they carried the crate to her truck. I couldn’t help it but I had to go over and ask her if there was any chance we could have save the dogs (I had found out at some point the owner of the house owned 2). She said absolutely not, the house was ravaged inside. I suspected so with the amount of smoke that was released when the firefighters first arrived.
It was my house and it wasn’t my pets, but witnessing a tragedy hurts anyway. I did a lot of thinking last night (and dreaming of it!) and quite a bit of cuddling with my two sweet kittens. I hugged my kids (ok..just my daughter, my son is too cool for that) extra and my husband as well. Go give those you love and extra moment today…you never know when tragedy will hit.
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