Sunday, August 31, 2008


Our next door neighbor's house burned down Friday night. Dante discovered it, really. Allan and Jonah were already sleeping and since it was a Friday Dante was 'staying up late.' We were upstairs playing when Dante asked me, 'What's that funny noise?" It sounded like the cat knocking down a glass or two in the kitchen. I hate it when she does that! So I ran downstairs to yell at her but when I got to the stairwell I realized she wasn't downstairs because I didn't hear the familiar thump as she jumps down from where she isn't suppose to be. Now I smelled smoke and heared a noise from next door, like someone was shoveling up broken tile. Why in the world would the neighbors be doing construction work at 9 pm? I went into the backyard to see if maybe they were having a bonfire-we all firepits in the neighborhood and use them often. The flickering light that usually comes from a small fire in a firepit didn't seem right, and the smokey smell was starting to smell more chemical then wood. When I looked over the fence I saw four foot flames coming out of our neighbor's living room!! I have never ever screamed so loud in my life. I sent Dante upstairs to get Allan, grabbed the phone to call 911 and ran out to the front lawn to see if Mike and Becky's cars were in their driveway. It appeared that they were not at home. Allan in the mean time dragged the hose to that side of the house to try to do something, anything, to stop the flames. 911 dispatched, I ran screaming out into the street, sending Dante to our good friend's house to arouse Rich and Gina to come and help while I knocked on doors and rang doorbells trying to get fire extinguishers and any other kind of help. It seems kind of silly in retrospect. The house was engulfed by the time the fire department arrived. Watering down the flames with a hose was pretty much the equivalent of peeing on it in a blind attempt of saving property. I was also screaming because sparks were landing on our roof. I was horrified that the house next door was on fire and terrified that ours would catch as well. By the time the four fire engines arrived with the three police cars a good crowd had gathered. Allan was still using the hose, but was smart and started wetting our fence and side of the house facing the fire. Rich attempted to put out a blaze in the garage with a fire extinguisher. When the police arrived they stood at our front door and told us to get our pets and get out of the house. We had two minutes to evacuate. We grabbed Jonah, who was still sleeping, and Rocket the dog, Allan moved the car up the street and I grabbed as many pictures off the wall as I could carry and the officer would allow. He was not kidding. Two minutes to GET OUT. We stood across the street in our sleep clothes along with the rest of the neighbors as we watched the firemen at work. It took 45 minutes for the house to be totalled. Flames roared out all the windows and roof.Smoke rolled out of every opening. Every time embers landed on my house I just cried. Good friends and strong German beer calmed my nerves as we all stood barefoot and in our pajamas for the next three hours as the fire was squealched. My house was saved. The neighbor's is a total loss. Here are some grainy and dark pictures. I don't have any pics of the actual flames. I was too hysterical to even rememeber my camera. Luckily it was in my purse in the car and I could retrieve it as we were banned from the house for four hours. Before we were allowed back home the firemen used a giant fan to blow out all the smoke from our house. It still smells a bit, but more like campfire than housefire. Jonah is pretty traumatized by the whole thing. He keeps talking about it, which is a good thing. He also says he will never ever touch fire because he doesn't want our house to burn down. That, too, is a good thing. It will take a while for all of us to get over it. God bless the firemen and police officers. They were amazing. The kids want to bring them cookies and thank you cards. I think that is a great idea.

The singed page was in our backyard...

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