Last night our friend and neighbor (we actually share
the property), Chrissy, came running into our house yelling,
"Fire!" We went outside and
could see it burning two properties away from us. As we stood there trying to gauge distance, I
came to horrible realization. “Chris, I
can hear that.” 

He quickly ran up to get into Shaun’s truck, so that
they could see where it was & if help was needed. As he left, I yelled after him, “What should
I do?” 

“Get the kids in the car!”

I’m so great in a crisis.

So Chrissy & I awoke & loaded up our various kids
and dogs and drove off while embers were falling through our trees into our
yards. The last thing I did was prop
open the gate for Pagan, our goat. 

We parked about a block away waiting for our husbands. From this view, we could see that the fire
was only three properties from ours. (This is about one city block, but dry and full of scrub brush, juniper
and walnut trees) 

The whole time Chrissy was crying because one of her
dogs wouldn’t leave the house. (Damn,
stubborn blue healers!) About that time,
I realized I’d left the baby’s dialysis machine and feeding pump so I told her
"We’ll go park in your big driveway and you run & get Blue. When you’re done I’ll grab the machines. If any either of us sees anything we lay on
the horn."

We got the dog no problem. Then it was my turn. I ran into my bedroom and started ripping
cords out of the wall. I had finally
gotten the stupid things unplugged and was running out the door when I heard
the horn. Terrified, I put it all down
and started running. Just then, she came
tearing around the corner to help.  We
got everything loaded up, and high-tailed it out of there. 

Returning to the road we could hear our husbands
yelling back and forth. Every time we’d
get scared for the guys, we’d just listen for their big booming voices. We watched over the next hour as the fire
went from a wild 40 foot tall (LOUD) one with the wind blowing it straight for
our houses to a wet smoldering mess, as the guys along with the volunteer fire
department fought the thing. 

When it was out, the guys strolled down the street
like they were the kings of the world. It
looked like a bedraggled version of that scene from A Few Good Men (or Monsters
Inc). They were wet and smelly and I
couldn’t wait to hug them. It was right
after that when I noticed that Chris was still wearing his flip flops.

He told me later that when they had arrived, the VFD
was nowhere to be found. So he and Shaun
were helping the frantic woman to get her dog (again with the dogs!) out of the
house and to pull her car away. About
five minutes later the VFD appeared. Evidently the 911 call had gone, not to dispatch, but instead to the
home of one of the VFD. She was
fortunately at home; and called up all the other members. Ah, the rural life. 

Then, apparently, began the keystone cop routine. The truck had oxygen but not masks, hoses but
not couplings, and no one knew how to unroll the hose. So they pulled out 50 feet to go three yards
and when the hoses were turned on they tied themselves in a knot. Having watched this, Chris and Shaun became
infuriated and began shouting orders at the trained volunteers. This appears to be what I heard as I was
sitting up at the road. 

Once the VFD got its equipment straightened out, they
began to fight the fire…by aiming at the house. Now mind you, the house at this point is
unsalvageable. The wind is blowing. The neighbor’s (2 from us) trees are catching
on fire. And it hasn’t rained in
weeks! So Chris and Shaun grabbed hoses
of their own and began damage control on the other side of the house. If I remember correctly, one soaked the
ground while the other worked the trees. I honestly believe that those two guys, along with a friend who showed
up, Errol, are the reason we still have a place to live.

I may get super irritated with my husband some
days. We bicker over dishes, bills and
remote control. But when it comes down
to it; I am so thankful that he’s in my life. I’m even grateful for the extreme mellowness that so often riles me
up. It allowed him to keep a steady head
and do what needed to be done. 

So as I tucked the frightened girls into bed last
night, I reassured them. “You can sleep
safe and sound, thanks to daddies.”


11 thoughts on “fire

  1. Follow Up:

    Wendy, who lives right across the street from where the fire was, and also co-owns the adjacent “Buzzard’s Roost” restaurant, came by a few minutes ago. She wanted to get the correct spelling for our husbands’ names. She is submitting a piece to the local paper.

    According to her, the work that they did in the first minutes was critical to avoiding a true tragedy. She also said something to the effect of, “If it hadn’t been for those guys, this whole northern area wouldn’t be here.” And she wants to make sure the whole community knows it.

  2. Well, I’m all weepy. I am so glad you are all ok and that nobody was hurt. I cannot even imagine trying to remain calm during such a time. Your husband is truly a brave and wonderful man.

    Plus, I love that everyone was thinking about the animals.

  3. ccw:
    You would notice that, huh? We can’t help it. We’re all just a bunch of animal lovin’ softies around here.

    I couldn’t believe how calm I was at the time. Crisis experience, I guess.

  4. The joys of small town life! Chris really did good. What is truly amazing to me is how calm we become when faced by real danger. Everything becomes crystal clear and time seems to slow to a crawl. Also, I’ve seen you operate in a crisis; you may go all to pieces afterward, but there is no one calmer and more capable when it counts!

  5. Yep. I remember some story about my bandaging Heather up. I don’t know if you were watching us or just happened to walk in right afterward.

    But yah, I can handle it, until it’s O.K. not to. I guess that’s a good trait to have. But it also means that everyone comes to me in an emergency, when inside I’m absolutely frantic.

  6. oh my gosh, rowan! what a horrible thing to go through. i’m so glad that you are all safe and your house wasn’t damaged.
    three cheers for for chris and his fire-fightin’ buddy!!!

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