Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Roof. The Roof. The Roof Is On Fire.

Well, was on fire.

Luckily, it was not our roof.

I had just gotten home yesterday afternoon from work and was on the phone with my best friend and next door neighbor, C. Sitting in my car, sifting through the mail, I thought I smelled smoke.

I happened to look at our next-door neighbor's house and, sure enough, curls of smoke were wafting through the roof. I told C, "I think our neighbor's house is on fire."

I hung up and ran (waddled quickly) to their front yard. Honestly, I was thinking that I might be imagining things. It was enough smoke to be concerning, but there were no visible flames. All of the windows in the house were open, so I wondered if they were home and perhaps had burned something in the oven. I ran (waddled quickly) up their front stairs and pounded on the door. There was no answer and now that I was closer, I could see that the house was filled with smoke. I got the heck off of the porch and really ran (not even a waddle this time) to the safety of my own front yard. By this time, C had joined me, and we looked at each other in disbelief.

It was time to dial 9-1-1. They promised a "big response" would be there shortly.

Within minutes, the smoke had gotten much worse. A neighbor from across the street came running over and also pounded on the door. C had just seen the wife less than an hour before. With all of the windows open and her car in the driveway, we were sure she was home and visions of her passed out somewhere from smoke inhalation were troubling all of us. Another neighbor ran around back and their slider door was open, but the screen was locked. With all of the smoke, he didn't think it was safe to go in the house.
A couple of seconds later, flames started shooting out from the front of the house and a third neighbor grabbed a hose and started spraying. All of a sudden, I realized how dry their front lawn is, and how close our house is to theirs and I started thinking about our house, too.

Fortunately, the first of twelve fire vehicles was there and firemen pouring out of the it, in less than five minutes. The ladder was out, the hose going strong, and soon they were on the roof, chainsawing their way through to the fire.

Of course, a large crowd soon gathered to watch their efforts. It took awhile for them to clear the roof fire before one of the firefighters could get in to see if anyone was inside. With the exception of the very scared family cat, the house was empty. Thank God.

After the fire was extinguished and the safety of our neighbors established, everyone could breathe a sigh of relief. Soon, the firefighters were offering to let the little kids peek in the trucks and handing out free plastic hats. It almost started feeling like a block party.

Until our neighbors returned home and we all realized what they had lost. The structure itself is definitely salvageable - most of the damage was to the roof and the front pillar, but there is a lot of smoke and water damage. They are unable to stay in the house for now. C and I both offered our spare bedrooms, but they are going to stay with nearby family.

One of our neighbors took this picture after the excitement had died down. You can see the house is still in good shape. There is a tarp on th roof and you can see the bare spot on the left pillar where they stripped off the siding to get to the fire.


K @ ourboxofrain said...

Wow. That's really scary. It is very fortunate that you and C noticed when you did and called 911.

One of our neighbors' houses burned down (completely unsalvageable) two summers ago, but we were on vacation when it happened. Our other neighbors described a similar block-party like scene once the fire was under control. They have a much nicer house now thanks to insurance, but losing all their things was devastating. I hope your neighbors fared better on that front.

Jen said...

Wow, very exciting story! I'm so glad that you were there to call 911.

I hope your neighbors are able to salvage the important things from their house. I am so glad that everyone is okay, even the cat.

Joy said...

That is so devastating but thank God their house is still salvageable!!! The other night I swore I forgot to turn the stove off and I made DH drive home super fast. Turns out I DID turn it off, but these kinds of things scare me.

Make sure you have smoke detectors if you don't already! I put one in EVERY SINGLE room!!!

Kathy V said...

Wow. I am glad nobody was hurt. It is always terrible when something like that happens.

Fertilized said...

OH MY WORD! that is awful!!

Polka Dot said...

Holy cripes. My house burnt down when I was a child and I'm still horribly afraid of coming home to a burning / burnt home. Before I leave, I make sure everything is turned off. I won't leave a single thing running - washer, dryer, etc ... I can't. I'll shut them all off mid-cycle if I have to leave before they're done.

Thankfully for them, their house is structurally sound. Losing your possesions is hard, especially if you're a child. But losing the home itself just adds another layer of trauma for everyone.

La La said...

Yikes! So scary. Do they know what caused it?

Geohde said...

I'm so glad nobody got injured. Houses can be repaired, but people....


Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

Yikes! That is so scary, but I'm glad that your house wasn't effected.

Ms. J said...

So glad you are okay (and your house), and nobody was hurt.

Kind of irnonic that the "very pregnant lady" is the one that noticed all of this in the first place?! Aren't women this pregnant supposed to be absentminded?! LOL, guess that theory is another myth!

Samantha said...

Wow, that is really scary! I'm so glad no one was hurt, but I can imagine the smoke damage must be pretty terrible for your neighbors.