A departure from my normal posting… this is a my neighbors house Friday night. In a split second his world changed. Since my house is only a few hundred yards through the woods, I was the first to arrive to offer help. In reality, there wasn’t much I could do since both occupants of the house had made it out.
The firemen worked hard and diligently to do their best, but considering our location, the task at hand was preventing the fire from spreading into the woods… containment at best. Two counties were represented, ours and a neighboring one. Water had to be shuttled in from a mile away (nearest county fire hydrant) and although we live on a lake, the county is a poor one, our fire department doesn’t have the proper equipment to pull water from it, only 300 feet away.
The following morning, this was all that remained. My neighbor has some insurance, more importantly, he has family that arrived to take him and his 7-year old daughter into their homes. I spoke to him at length while looking at the smoking remains. He seemed calm. A veteran of military service, he is receiving medical attention for a bad back and had just returned from a VA hospital where his medications were replaced (all lost to the fire). He spoke about rebuilding but not to the degree of this house.
It had been built by himself, most of the wood taken from the very land we stood on… trees felled, sawed and cured, then used in the construction of the house — 10 years in the making. No one knows at this point what actually happened to start the fire, we all agree that it began in the attic (evident from the photos) but as to what started the blaze we know not.
My neighbor will be ok… friends and family are helping as well as the Red Cross and his Church. Of course the most important item was they both made it out unharmed.
He actually threw some personal items out into the yard before I arrived, but did not remember it until his daughter asked me to help move them away from the fire, I suppose he was in shock and just didn’t remember.
I’m taking care of his dogs until he gets a few things settled, life goes on. However I think it’s important for all of us to remember how “in a split second” things can change and we need to be as prepared as best as we can, if only mentally. I’ve spent a good amount of time this weekend checking my own house and property, looking for problems, photographing the rooms for insurance purposes, re-planing emergency routines.
Not a bad idea to do every so often.