The past two days have been crazy. My phone rang at the office yesterday morning. It was my wife. Her voice was shaky. She sounded out of breathe. And then she began to tell me. Our around-the-corner neighbor's house was on fire. The lady across the street from us had been driving by when she noticed smoke pouring out of the attic of this house. She immediately called 911, stopped and pounded on the door until she got the family out. The dad, one daughter and one son were in the house. They all got out safely. The mom, who happens to be one of my wife's very good friends, and the other two children were not in the house at the time. The house and two cars were completely ruined. Hubcaps and tired melted right off the rims. Paint melted away. Insides gone. The fire began in the carport, spread to the attic and down into the house through the kitchen. What a disaster.
My wife has spent every waking-minute the past two days helping her friends piece things together, pull momentos out, brush off charred pictures, sort through children's drawings with burned edges. With hardhat in place, I slowly and softly slipped through the house, taking pictures, documenting contents to help with insurance matters. What was not destroyed by the fire was damaged by water and smoke. That's our neighbor's digital camera in the picture above. The community has really come to the rescue. A local hotel has given the family two rooms for a few days, until they can find temporary housing. A realtor has stepped forward, taken a house of the market temporarily and offered it to the family for three months. Gift cards, toys, clothes, food and essentials have been pouring in.
Our friends lost one dog and 4 tropical birds in the blaze, but two family dogs were unhurt. My family and I have those dogs at our house. My wife and I constructed a mini doggie condo on our back porch yesterday. It's warm and cozy. The black lab and the rat terrier both seem to be quite comfortable and content. My daughter and her friend gave them baths today to help rid them of the soot and smoke smell. The mom and youngest daughter came by our house this afternoon for a while to visit Ruger and Banjo. Tonight we're are all exhausted. It's been a busy time and there are more busy times to come. Possessions can be replaced. Lives cannot. And during it all, lending a helping hand and sharing love and friendship is absolutely necessary.