I was watching television on Saturday afternoon when I heard some sirens that sounded a bit louder than those we hear from the main roads. I wondered, but didn’t think much about it. About 30 minutes later, Oliver and I went out for a walk. As we climbed the hill up to the main street, there they were: at least five fire engines, three police cars and countless onlookers.
One of my neighbor’s homes was on fire, seemingly from the furnace in the attic. I felt really uncomfortable about obviously gawking at it, so we walked around the back way to another courtyard, where I ran into some neighbors I knew. That put me in direct view of the fire, though, from about 50 yards away. Disaster clearly brings people together, as I met at least five more neighbors standing there. One even brought out snacks while we all watched the firemen try to save the house.
The whole time I had a really sick feeling thinking about the family that lives there. I don’t know them directly, but I’ve heard about them and know neighbors in common. I suspect they were the ones huddled with another group in chairs on the lawn immediately in front of the house. Fire is just about my worst fear — so much so that I often run back upstairs (and even turn the car around) if I think I might have left the iron, the stove, the coffee pot on. So to watch my neighbors’ home be destroyed was gut-wrenching. I steered Oliver toward home, but stopped to talk to another, elderly neighbor who had come outside to watch. I was turned away from the home, until she exclaimed, “Oh, there it goes!” The entire roof was seriously ablaze, and flames were shooting out of the attic vents, threatening even to jump to the roof next door. That was it — more than I could take, and we headed back to the safety of our own home. Keep reading »