Happy Saturday! While families across the country are gathering to remember those that lost their lives on September 11, 2001 one family in my neighborhood is thankful for theirs. I was driving down the road about 10:30 this morning and I noticed a bit of gray smoke coming out of the garage door of a house about 7 down from mine. In the yard was a man in a gray shirt on a cell phone. Two cars were in the driveway but only one person was outside.
I had Alexander in the back seat so I told him to hold tight I needed to check on this. I got out and started to run to the house when I saw an older teen boy sprinting down the road. I quickly asked the gentleman in the yard if he was on the phone with 911 and he was. I was prepared to go banging on windows to alert the family inside but at that minute the door open and a teen girl and a younger girl walked out.
At this point the teen boy went in to the house to let everyone know that the house was on fire and I told the younger girl to come with me. She said she didn’t have her shoes on and I told her not to go back in the house. I then swooped her up and went running to my vehicle. I heard the mom yell, “Where are my girls?” and I yelled back “I have one.”
I was in the Nissan Murano so I opened the gate and put the little girl down. As I turned around to go run back up to the house I saw the teen girl with an even younger girl and told her to sit them in the cargo area and I’d be back.
I went running back up to the house and by this time the entire family was out. The teen boy had quickly run and opened the garage door and a mass of thick, dark, black smoke came pouring out. It turns out that the water heater was on fire and as a result so was a part of the garage.
At this point the dad went over and turned the circuit breaker off on the house and then the teen boy and the dad went and got the water hose to start putting on the fire. By the time the first sheriff’s deputy arrived the visible fire had been extinguished however there was concern that it spread to the wall or attic.
I stayed with the girls, it turns out that they are in 3rd grade and kindergarten at the neighborhood school so we talked about the school, etc. The mom was very visibly upset and quite frantic (understandably so) and so I tried to keep her calm. Thankfully the grandparents pulled up shortly thereafter and encouraged the mom to be seen by paramedics to a) get the coughing under control from the smoke inhalation and b) calm down.
Alexander just kind of hung out and watched for the hour or so that we were there. When we were getting ready to leave, the firemen were just cleaning up and one brought over a toy fireman’s hat for Alexander was well as the two little girls.
As we left the mom, dad, and grandparents thanked me for stopping and I told them that they were welcome but anyone would stop and the fireman said that a surprising amount of people wouldn’t have stopped. I don’t know how that is possible because it was apparent that this was not an intentional fire and the gentleman that I saw in the front yard did not look relaxed.
Alexander and I stopped by the store and picked up each of the little girls a toy and then bought a gift card for the family to pick up new backpacks and a few other things that will reek of smoke but aren’t easily cleaned. The mom gave me a big deep hug, thanked me, and through tears asked, “Where do people like you come from?” I simply responded, “From up the street.”