BY BEA WESTERBERG
FIRE! Thank you to the fire department
“Firefighters never die, they just burn forever in the hearts of the people whose lives they saved.” -Susan Murphree
One finds out how far your heart can drop when you smell smoke and look outside and see a sea of smoke and leaping flames coming out of a building. This is how my story starts on April 11 on a nice warm, sunny afternoon. I had gotten lots of things done on the barn cleaning project and had taken a short nap to reward myself. Upon waking up and going to the kitchen, I could smell smoke and I looked all around the kitchen area to see what was going on and did not find anything out of place. I said to myself to go outside and check out the direction the smell was coming from as no doubt a neighbor was burning something. I was hit in the face with what looked like fog and I just could not figure out what that was. It cleared a bit and I then saw the flames roaring out of the garage/shop window. Oh my God; Fire! I had two thoughts about the same time and that was call 911 and save the dog that was tied up about 9 feet away from the building. The dog came walking out of the smoke and I grabbed him and ran inside to call 911. I ran back out and thought I was going to back the yellow Mustang out of the garage, but the smoke was so thick my brain said “don’t go in there, you got the dog and that is what is important at this time”.
Of course it took forever for the fire department to come, but it was minutes in real time. In the meantime, several neighbors came rushing over as they heard explosions and saw the flames. The pickup is very hard for me to put in the garage because there is so little side room and I have to work myself up to do it. I kept putting off doing that and it was parked about 10 feet away from the garage. My neighbor Tony ran and moved it far away.
The first fire truck arrived and they leaped into action but they ran out of water after a short period time and no other trucks were on hand. The next 10 minutes were the absolute longest of my lifetime and the fire kept increasing. The She Shed is about one vehicle width from the burning building and the house is about 2 vehicle widths away. Other trucks, equipment and people came flooding in. It was a sea of activity as the fire ate away at the whole building and the flames got more intense and explosions were happening. The car’s gas tank was filled several days before with $3.42 gas (Not the $4.00 gas – looking for humor here), welding equipment, and many other things that are stored in shop-garages that could go boom.
The fire people told me that the garage- shed was not savable but they were fighting to save the house and shed. The heavy black smoke must have been when the car tires came to a full burn and exploded. A fire fighter ended up having to go the hospital with smoke inhalation. I was here but I think my mind had gone off to another place and I felt like I was floating away and freezing.
In the end, there were people and equipment from at least 4 different fire departments and there must have been 20 different vehicles on site including sheriffs department, rescue and a number of others that came to help. It was amazing to see how the firefighters worked in teams. Everyone who came to talk to me was so comforting and I just felt they were and would do everything they possibly could. In the end, the house got smoke damage and a bit of damage and the She Shed was saved but has some heat and smoke damage that probably can be repaired. When I finally went to look at the She Shed, I know a miracle happened when it did not burn completely.
Now I am onto a totally new chapter of my life with insurance, etc. I am trying to prepare myself for a long haul. There are not enough ways to say THANK YOU to the fire department and all friends and neighbors who helped and continue to help me. I am blessed even with all that happened. Bea Westerberg [email protected]