11/8/08

*FIRE* !!

Remember I was missing Bonfire Night back home? Well always be very careful what you wish for people!

There I was getting ready to leave to work the gate at the Football game tonight, when the Hubster comes running through the house yelling "Huge fire in that old house over the road!!"

Let me hastily say this has been an empty property for many years, but it's just across the highway from us.

I ran onto our porch and saw this awful sight....!!!!

As I got out there, there were two big explosions, probably propane tanks or something similar. My first thought was for our neighbours home (you can see it below), this young guy has been renovating this house for months and here it was severely threatened!

I could already hear the sirens approaching and all of us were sprinting over the road, it was total chaos. The first of many fire trucks tore up to the fire (see below), we ended up with trucks from 3 towns in attendance - all volunteer firefighters.

I called a colleague from work to ask her to cover the gate for me and she said she'd heard it on the scanners. Around here everyone tends to have a scanner for the weather and fire risks.

There were clouds of burning embers falling all around us and all our homes. We are so dry here, we have been under 3 High Fire Danger warnings in the past 3 days. We have dead dry leaves everywhere in our yards and we were all running around stamping out embers as they landed.

By now the fire was fully ablaze and a scary sight when you live just a few hundred feet from it!

A total stranger stopped and leapt out of his truck, grabbed a hose off a neighbour and started hosing down the young guys home. One of our neighbours ran to help him. We just live in that kinda town/area and at moments like this, it's a blessing.

It had the main highway through town shut for over an hour, lots of towns people came by to offer help or watch.

The firemen were telling us all to start wetting everything down. We turned on our sprinkler system in the nearest area of our yard where embers were landing (you can see them floating above the crowd). Our neighbours who had heavier embers falling, were on their roof hosing it down.

The support trucks were criss-crossing our street, wetting everything down they could reach from their trucks. We are surrounded on 2 sides by farmland and there was concern this could also catch light, it being so dry. They were driving across yards between houses and down alleys and backyards trying to protect us all.

They pulled right up our driveway to the house and sprayed everything down for a couple of minutes on both sides, including the Hubster who got an 'accidental' friendly squirt!


Once the fire was coming under control, we started getting rained on by sodden ash, that's the spots all over these pictures and it was very smoky. Here's our home through the ash and smoke haze.

Looking up the street away from the actual fire, but the air was heavy with falling ash and thick smoke, as the fire trucks continued to damp us down.

We actually got very lucky. Our Asst Fire Chief said if it had happened 24 hours ago, we could well have lost all our homes due to the 40mph winds. But it also seems certain the fire was no accident. The property has been empty for years and there is no power to it, so as the Fire Chief said "why now"?!

Here are just two of our town heroes, a father and daughter firefighting team. I have written before about our local volunteer fire departments and how amazingly committed they are. And as usual they were super fast to respond, utterly professional and caring about their neighbours/friends being in danger. I think they can probably expect good donations from most of our street in the near future.

When we finally came in we stank of smoke, and even after washing our clothes they still smell. The hubster thinks we might have to try vinegar in the wash, but if you have any ideas, please leave them in comments.

So it was a little too close for comfort, the drama in our neighbourhood tonight. But it's moments like this that really make me appreciate the value of belonging and living in a smalltown, where everyone looks out for each other.

As I head to bed, there are still firemen vigilently patrolling the area to keep us all safe as we sleep. I'll post some after-shots later.

22 comments:

chrome3d said...

Thanks for the report. Most dramatic stuff. I have no idea how to get rid of the stink.

Kay said...

Good grief, Sarah! That is unreal! What an awful thing to happen but thank goodness you're all OK. It's so scary! My son is a firefighter in New Mexico so I'm in awe of voluteer firefighters who do it gallantly for their community without the benefits of a full time job.

Tabib said...

Thank God you and family are not affected, and no loss of life in this incident.

Mare said...

Wow! I once lived across the street from a gas station and next to the gas station was a church. The church caught on fire and people came from everywhere to watch. I left the area...the fire was next to a gas station!!!
I know that vinegar in a bowl left standing in a room eliminates smells[smoke among them]. So I'll bet the hubster is right about the wash!! Good luck.

Almost American said...

How scary! I think volunteer firefighters are amazing! I have a friend who has been a volunteer for many years now and he always carries all his gear in the back of his truck. More than once he's been driving through a strange town and ended up stopping to help the local volunteers!

I'd try the white vinegar in the rinse cycle - maybe stop the machine and let the clothes soak for an extra few minutes, and then dry on a line outside rather than in the dryer.

Jill of All Trades said...

Oh my goodness how scary. That kind of stuff really gets the heart beating out of your chest. Glad everything is okay for you guys.

pamokc said...

GIRL! OMG! Is this the little property that I poked around a bit! The abandoned run-down house and outbuilding? I should have taken that old oil company sign that I wanted after all! It probably went up in flames! But why burn it (if it WAS arson), when one good bull dozer and about 45 minutes would have torn it all down anyway??!!! And totally suspicious considering the other vacant house that burned not so long ago, as I recall from your blog. Do you think there is a rogue teen boy somewhere setting some fires? Twice in your small town is totally suspicious.

Little Britainer said...

wow - be careful what you wish for indeed! The fire services here - volunteer and professional - are really amazing, it has to be said. I feel funny a bit of a voyeur marveling about them, but those are really amazing pictures too...

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Pam - yes that's the exact property you were poking around, I told you to take the sign LOL! We think there's more than one teen doing this. As the Fire Chief said we need to get rid of some of these old empty places, but in a controlled manner!

Well after the clothes came out the dryer the smell had gone.

Mare - I'd have been right with you!

Bella Foxx said...

All that drama and what do you do? You grab your camera! Maybe you should have a side career as a photojournalist! Although, I would have done exactly the same thing.

I too am in awe of firemen, paid and volunteer. No amount of money could get me into a burning building.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Bella - you're right, but then to be honest I go nowhere without it as I see piccies everywhere these days!

Me: said...

My gosh! My heart was pumping fast as I read through this! I'm so glad everyone is safe and sound and no one was hurt. I hope they find out what caused the fire. Sorry but I have no idea how to get the smoke smell out of your clothes other than to maybe just keep washing them until it fades away.

Winifred said...

Well you got a better bonfire than you expected. A real one!

Maybe you've got a pyromaniac around or someone with Guy Fawkes Night withdrawal symptoms.

Perhaps you should start a Firewatch Friday to go with your Skywatch. You'd win a prize with the photos.

Nan said...

What an excellent, excellent report! You ought to give it to the local paper, including the great photos. I'm so impressed!

Expat mum said...

About 14 year ago here in Chicago a wooden frame house in the street next to us caught fire. By the time everything had settled down the four houses next to it were also burnt to the ground because of the flying embers. Eek. Scary.

Sherri said...

Sarah, what a scary evening for you, your husband and all your neighbors!! I'm glad everyone is safe!

Mmm said...

Oh how terribly sad for that poor young man!! Amazing shots.

willow said...

Oh how scary!! Glad you and the hubster are okay. Terrifying photos.

Sandi McBride said...

Thank God for living in such a great place...helping hands make light work...and sometimes save more than work! I blame Guy Fawkes myself!
All kidding aside, so glad that your neighbors house was saved and your place, of course!
hugs
Sandi

reluctantfarmchik said...

Wow - what an adventure! So glad it ended up with only one (empty) house down. Glad it didn't happen when the winds were howling either. It is wonderful when people pull together for the good of all, isn't it? Great neighbors are worth more than a house, for sure.

Rob (Inukshuk Adventure) said...

High drama indeed. So good to know that only the old abandoned place was harmed. Also so good to know that there are such good people, everyday heroes, out there. Makes one believe in the goodness of humanity after all.

Rhea said...

Wow, that's so scary when it happens so close to home. Very cool photos. Glad no one was hurt. The explosions would have terrified me!