A terrible fire devastated a house in my neighborhood last month. It was on a street directly off of mine, right on the same block. There are less than fifteen houses between mine and the house that caught fire. We were home at the time of the fire, but we surprisingly had no idea it had occurred until the following day.

We took the kids and our dog for a walk around the block after work to see how bad the house looked. The closer we got to the house, the more we could smell it. The whole area smelled like a campfire. We stayed on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street to view the house from a safe distance. It did not look good. The house was decimated to a shell of its former self. The front didn’t look that bad at first glance aside from a large blackened area in the middle. The side of the house, near the garage, was much worse. It was burnt black, with some of the walls partially disintegrated. Two cars were parked on the front long (apparently taken out of the garage). They were simply burnt metal shells. The gas tanks had exploded. All of the windows, seats, and most of the tires were gone.

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The doors and windows of the house were gone, leaving gaping holes into the scorched home. We could see straight through one side of the house and out the other. It was obvious that everything inside was ruined (much of it disintegrated).  A flimsy orange fence circled the wreckage.The following day the doors and windows were all boarded up.

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A lot of cars drove down the normally quiet street to see the results of the fire while we walked past. It was a very sad sight. Just being there, in front of the rubble, was sickening. I felt so sorry for the family. It immediately soured my mood, but at the same time made me want to pull my own family close to me.

Later we learned much of what happened, although the cause of the fire is still unknown. The fire started around 2:30 a.m. in the garage and quickly spread to the house. Meanwhile, the family of five and their two dogs was asleep inside. Soon the house was engulfed in flames. The father and one child made it out safely, while the mother and two other children were forced to jump out of a second story window. One dog survived the fire, but sadly, the other did not. Thankfully, the entire family made it out safely, but the house was destroyed.

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Even though the fire happened in the middle of the night I can’t believe we didn’t hear any sirens (or at least our dog barking about the sirens and fire trucks driving by). I read that the fire department had the fire extinguished in about two hours. Supposedly it could have been faster, but there were problems with a fire hydrant due to the ongoing construction on the street.

My heart goes out to the family, who lost everything they had. It makes you put yourself in their shoes and imagine what it could be like to endure such a tragic event. There can’t be many things more frightening than waking up to a smoke alarm and having your house on fire. There were two different times when we thought we were in that situation.

The first time, we had a smoke alarm go off in the middle of the night. We have those smoke alarms that are hardwired into the house so once one smoke alarm goes off, they all go off. It was an incredibly loud and scary way to awaken from a deep sleep. Ashley and I quickly grabbed our children, and then I searched the house for any sign of smoke or fire. I didn’t find anything, but we quickly went outside and called 911. Within minutes our driveway and the street in front of our house were lit up by the lights on police cars and fire trucks. They fully inspected our home and found that we had a faulty smoke alarm. It was not easy to fall back asleep after that. About a year later a carbon monoxide detector went off (again in the wee hours of the morning) bringing more firemen to our home. Again, it was faulty hardware.

While we have had a couple of brief scares, that’s all they were; false alarms. This family had a real fire. It destroyed everything they owned and even killed one of their dogs. I can’t fathom going through that. It makes me feel so sad and sorry for them. It also makes me think about what it would be like to lose everything.

I think about the things in my house. We have a decent amount of stuff. There’s a lot of clothing, books, a couple of cameras, photos, furniture, and a whole lot of toys. But the more I think about it, it’s all just stuff. It’s all replaceable. Don’t get me wrong, it would be terrible to have our home and everything in it get destroyed, but as long as my family and dog were safe, I would be fine. You can always rebuild and buy new stuff. Starting over would not be easy, there’s no doubt about that. I guess all I could really do would be thankful that my family was spared and attempt to embrace the opportunity to start fresh. The worst part would be having to find a new place to live until you can rebuild.  Again, it wouldn’t be easy, but what more can you do in a situation like that?

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