Saturday, July 3, 2010

Orange Flames & Black Soot

Saturday night, June 19th, around 8 PM, I was just drifting off to sleep, to nap for a few hours before I had to go into work later that night.  I began hearing a strange crackling noise which I couldn't identify.  At first I figured that it was probably a cat playing with a plastic bag or something like that.  But the noise kept on, and still didn't sound right.  Then I wondered if it had begun raining, which would have been good, because everything was very dry.  Maybe it was even hailing, I thought.  I got up, to check on my little tomato and cucumber plants which were outside, thinking I would move them under cover if it was hailing.

But as I walked over to the window, to see what was going on, I was horrified to see a wall of flames racing toward the house!!  It was too big and too fast to even think about trying to put it out.  I ran and pulled some pants on, as all I was wearing was a nightie.  I ran to the phone by the front door, and saw, as I dialed 911, that the flames were already on all sides of the house.  It was terrifying to see.  I told the emergency dispatcher that my house was surrounded by fire, grabbed my car keys and ran out the front door.

At that point, I thought the entire house was probably going to burn down, and I would lose everything.  I looked at my car, sitting in the driveway, and saw flames in front of it, on both sides, and even a few dancing behind it.  I hesitated for a split second, wondering if I should just forget the car and run.  But I decided I wanted to at least have the car if at all possible, so I rushed in and drove it as fast as I could away from the flames, backing out the driveway and down the street.  

Then I saw my elderly dog, Lucy, walking toward the house, I was able to catch her- she was confused about what was happening- and I ran her back to the car and put her in there for safe keeping.  By then the fire engines, and police, had arrived.  I think a couple of my neighbors, including the fellow next door who had accidentally started the fire while welding outside, had called the fire in before I did.  I also heard that the fire engines had just pulled into the fire house, returning from another call, when they were called out, so their response was even faster.  I do believe the house would have at least partially burned if the fire crew had not gotten there so quickly.  As it was, fire burned right up to the house, and right up to the garage.  It burned the part of the wooden latilla fencing between my yard and the next door neighbors' yard.  The keep an RV parked right next to that fence, and the cover that was on the RV melted away on that side.  The RV's propane tank is also on that side, so it was a real blessing that it didn't blow, or the whole situation could have been dramatically worse.   The giant willow tree in that area got charred, but I think it will be OK.  The tree house that was in it, which my cats enjoyed, was a total loss.  One pine tree looks like a total loss.   And a lot of the trees which looked alright the day after the fire, showed the heat damage they had suffered a day or two later, and their leaves turned brown.  They'll be fine next year, but for this summer they have lost some of their greenery. 

My cats took off, and I was worried about them... later they started returning, one by one.  About two hours after the firemen had left, the last missing cat, Tobias, made an appearance and they were all accounted for.  Now there is just a black, charred yard all around, and black soot being tracked in by me, the cats, and the dog.  It's a mess, but when I think of how much worse it could have been I feel very lucky.   The house was filled with smoke, and stank for a while, but it's back to normal now unless the wind blows in smell from the yard. 

 I think this was the most frightening experience I've ever been through.  Even though the fire was put out pretty quickly, those moments of raw terror seeing the flames all around the house made a powerful impression upon my psyche.  Several times in the past couple of weeks since the fire, I have suddenly jerked awake from sleep in fear over some noise, thinking of fire.   Maybe I will move, as the black yard is a sad reminder of what happened, and I don't like seeing it.  I'm hoping the landlord will have the yard cleaned up, but I'm not quite sure what is going on with that right now...  (Who knows, maybe this will be what motivates me to buy a place of my own, which would really make me happy.  I have found a sweet place, which I may make an offer on... I can't quite afford what they are asking, so it will be a low offer, but, maybe maybe maybe my dream will come true!  Keep your fingers crossed for me.) 

Now look below to see some photos I took the night of the fire.  And tell me, have you ever experienced a fire?  It sure makes me appreciate firefighters.  I don't think I'd be brave enought to do that job, but I am so glad that there are people who are that brave!

This is the spot where the fire jumped from the neighbor's up into my yard:

This is the big willow tree that got scorched, and the latilla fence:

This is the side and rear of the house:

And the side of the garage:

And here is 'Lenny', my guardian lion, who seems to have stopped the fire in one area:

There were only a few burned spots out by my cat crossing sign:

And this last photo, though blurry, made me very happy, because the flash just happened to catch Henry returning home for the first time after the fire.  I'd been worried about him!



Marg said...

Oh gosh that is really scary. We are so glad that you are all right and that the animals are all right. Thank heavens the fire department was alreay on their way. Guess we all need to be thankful for the good things that happen.
Have a great week end.

(angel) Grrreta and Fam said...

Wow, what a scary experience! I'm so glad you and your pets are safe.

Amy said...

Wow. I'm so glad you and the cats are okay! How frightening, I can't imagine. I'm sure you will continue having some bad dreams until your mind has had a chance to grasp it all. Fire is such a primal fear.

I was around a fire once, it doesn't effect me much, except that I am quick to sniff any smoke in the air...I always notice it first, and when CA has the wildfires that plague us, I'm always a bit anxious.

Get some rest!

Witchie's Place said...

OMGSH! I'm glad y'all are safe! I've experienced no less than 3 fires in my life so far and am terrified of it! Keeping my fingers crossed for ya on the offer!

CapricornWoman said...

Wow, what a terrifying experience!

Fire is one of my biggest fears and the few times I have seen a house fire it has really shaken me. Thankfully not my own house.

Glad to hear you and the cats are OK though!

Laane said...

Oh my dear! Oh my dear! I'm so glad you and your animals made it all safe and sound.
That's so terrifying!!

josie said...

that was really scary, thank God nothing serious happens to you and your pets, hope you can move on from that experience..God Bless!

Flamincatdesigns said...

All I can say is WoW! What a scary experience. It is wonderful that no one was hurt. I have never experienced such an awful thing. I hope you can get a place of your own as you mentioned. Hopefully things are starting to get back to normal for you.

Chubskulit Rose said...

Praise God that you and your lovely pets are not harmed. I hope that your offer be accepted so youcan start anew, far from that scary experience.

BTW, I love your paintings.

I always came by your blog but not really leave comment, but this one I can't pass.

Unknown said...

Oh, it is really scary. But glad to know that you are okay.