Today, our neighbor's house caught fire when a barbecue exploded next to her house. Flames traveled up a vent and spread to the attic. We had no idea anything was wrong until we were loading the kids in the car to go to Jay's aunt's house for Sunday dinner and saw the firetrucks. As we watched, thick yellow smoke began billowing from the house and more and more firetrucks raced, sirens blaring, up our street.
Our house is literally ten feet away from our neighbor's and isn't separated by anything but a spit of gravel that runs nearly the whole length of our houses. From the backyard, we saw firefighters battling flames on the roof. The winds shifted slightly, and our yard filled with acrid smoke. After a brief consult with the fire captain, we decided to leave as we'd planned so we could escape the smoke. He told us they hoped to have the blaze under control soon.
It was eerie to run through the house as the kids waited in the car. It felt like a dream where an impending threat draws nearer and time moves in slow motion. If you had five minutes to leave your house for what could be the last time, what would you save? What would you do?
Turns out I get panicky when there's a crisis, so my thoughts weren't the clearest, but I changed from my dress into jeans and a shirt. I grabbed my wallet, laptop, camera bag, and the girls' monkey and leopard comfort objects. Jay grabbed a file of our important papers. I unlocked the doors in case the firefighters needed access. And then we left.
(If I could do it again? I'd have moved Jay's car out of the garage and parked it down the street and grabbed a change of clothes for the kids and work clothes for Jay. Maybe the quilts I made and a box of my journals if felt the need for more. But everything else seemed replaceable.)
We squeezed the minivan between the two firetrucks blocking our driveway and counted eight firetrucks on the scene as we drove away.
We had our car, we had our kids, we had each other. "We have what matters," Jay said. And he was right, but I was still afraid. The thought of "home" didn't feel safe at the moment, and I wasn't sure how to handle the insecurity.
Kate said a prayer on our drive, and though I felt agitated during dinner, several neighbors texted awhile later letting us know the flames had subsided and our house was safe.
I feel so grateful to the firefighters who put their safety on the line to protect our neighborhood in general and my home in particular (three were actually injured on the job). My neighbor's house sustained an estimated $300K in damage. She has been in our thoughts; I can't imagine the grief and shock she's experiencing. My relief that our house was spared is tempered by the knowledge that hers was not.
In other news, Drewby is 11 months old today, and this is the only picture I took:
He is the sweetest, happiest little nugget. We love him dearly.