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Up in smoke

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This photo courtesy of POLARIS/Mecklenburg County GIS

Sirens pierced the air…again.  I ventured out of the house three times Friday, and every time I heard the unmistakable sound of an emergency…

For the first two, I immediately said a quick prayer for the person or people in need of assistance and for the personnel in route to provide it.  And then I went through my mental checklist of my family’s whereabouts, calmly assuring myself of their safety and saying a prayer for each of them.

For the third one, there wasn’t time… 

I left our house around 6:40 p.m. to pick John up from his golf game…

Two houses beyond our driveway, I pulled over to allow a volunteer firefighter to pass.  I heard him before I saw him…I held my breath as he navigated the 90-degree turn on his way to wherever he was going.  I got back on the road, made the bend, and again, merely two houses further along, had to get out of the way of another responder…  After he passed, I cautiously moved forward, slowing down for the panicked man standing in the roadway, two houses beyond my last temporary stop…  I glanced to the left as I crept past him and saw thick plumes of smoke billowing out from behind the house on the corner…

Although the circumstances were different, the expression on that man’s face, his behavior reminded me of myself many years ago.  When I was a freshman in high school, our home caught fire in the middle of the night; I remember standing in the center of the road, desperately screaming, yelling and waving, trying to direct the fire department to the right place…

I decided to keep moving; I was at ground zero and could offer nothing helpful other than to get out of the area.  Three more volunteers flew by me… 

Once I was beyond the immediate vicinity, I pulled over to the side of the road again...  (Got to call Grace…she’s off and should be on the way home; was she coming straight home?  I cannot remember...I cannot believe this.  I NEVER EVER leave the house with anything in the oven and tonight I did and now a home eight houses away is on fire and I really want to turn around myself to go back home but I don’t think I could get there that way anyway and I need to tell her to go home the other way and to go right now I will NEVER do this again).  Thankfully Grace was about five minutes away…  Seconds after I hung up with her John called to see where I was and confirm all was okay…

My friend Sue arrived at Pine Lake about five minutes after I did; she drove the same route several minutes behind me.  When she passed, the house was entirely engulfed in flames.

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I prayed no one was there or got hurt; last I heard, no one was inside when it happened, nor was anyone injured in battling the blaze.

I hope the owners and tenants both had insurance; the house was devastated and in this economy, things are hard enough…

I’m grateful firefighters were able to bring things under control quickly, especially in this extreme heat.  The shutters on the adjacent house were warped and melted in places from the intensity of the blaze… 

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I’m thankful the emergency personnel arrived safely…  I recently met a mom who lost her son in an early morning wreck; he was a volunteer on the way to an emergency call when his accident occurred.  He crossed my mind as the responders sped past me, especially the first one hurtling so fast into the curve...  Minutes really do matter…

Which is why we all need to get out of their way and stay there…  Hours later, after the fire had been extinguished, Sue & I walked down to check on our friend who lived two doors up from the blaze.  Sue had noticed her running toward the burning house when she was on her way to Pine Lake…  As we stood in the neighbor’s driveway talking, the electrical line next to the burned home buzzed and a big ball of intense blue light flashed.  The firemen all backed away, shouting for someone to confirm the electricity had been shut down…

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this all weekend…  I know far too well the people I love cannot be replaced…  We had a fire evacuation plan for our old house, but somehow we never discussed one for here.  Until today.  We planned our routes out and will meet at the mailbox should the need arise…

This could happen to anyone at any time.  Just because I’ve lived through it once does not make us immune…even though I am obsessive about unplugging appliances…

Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to be smarter and correct my oversights…  Eight doors down is really too close to home for comfort…

Wishing you many blessings and always, hope…tg

Tammy will update her blog on Mondays and Thursdays.  -- Jen, site administrator  

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