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Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

That Thing Before Xmas


You might remember me saying that things around Xmas were slightly bumming me out. Well, here is the promised picture. This was the result of a fire the Monday before Xmas, two doors down from us. About midnight Bette woke me up saying the fire trucks just went by. I went out on my deck and saw this house of fire. It was fully involved. Think of the house being outlined in fire, that was what this was like. For a moment I thought it was our neighbor's house. As you can see, we have a lot of woods. So I threw on some clothes and went out with my neighbors to bear witness.

This was the most silent fire I ever heard. Nothing. Really. I could hear the fireman's equiment jangeling. All our trucks were out, Rome and Windsor had also responded. A friend of mine was one of the first responders, the fire was called in by two other guys two minutes before he got on scene (he used ot be a firefighter, and he was in the right place to respond). Three minutes later our trucks started showing up. They couldn't get in the house. Silent fire.

I was pretty sure, after hearing the reports, that the old man who lived here would be found inside. I went home to call the mayor. The guys would need a pick up, Larry can do that. On the way back home I knew the old man was dead. There is a smell particular to human flesh burning. I couldn't smell it near the fire, I could on my lawn.

I knew they wouldn't find much. Just look at the house. It's gone. Two hours was the total burn time. Plus, once the fire was mostly out our firemen started searching form the outside. Just look at the house, our chief wasn't going to send somebody through that (don't know what's good floor and what's not). At that point I figured he was in the center of the house. And he was there, you can see his car in the garage. The guys looking in what was left of the bedroom side of the house didn't react. Nobody turned, cleared mask, and tossed cookies. I knew he was in the middle.

I hate being right sometimes. They didn't find much of him. The real pisser is that his daughter lives next door, opposite from us. Fortunately some neighbors who knew her better were helping. It wasn't until after eight when the chief ordered people in the house. That's how long it was too hot to go in. At two in the morning the middle of the house was gone. Very hot, very silent fire.

Go check the batteries in your fire detectors. This guy was our former fire chief.

4 comments:

littlebirdblue said...

Heavy story, Steve. Sorry about your neighbor.

Nice post, though--moving.

Steve Buchheit said...

Thanks. That was a rough night. And it put a damper on the whole holiday.

The fire inspector still hasn't ruled as to cause of fire, so the house still sits there like you see it. A broken grin of rotting teeth, with a nicotine yellow police line banner.

My street's employee keeps asking if we should knock it down. I have to keep saying, that's the insurance's job, and we don't have a final report, yet.

Cassie Kay said...

This really affected me as well, as I remember the day this happened. I also live only a couple houses away. Like I said I remember the day it happened, it was December 18, 2006 because hubby and I just got home from seeing my friend in the hospital, she just gave birth to a baby boy!! Hubby and I had just put our kids to bed and were watching tv, all of a sudden I came out to find my hubby missing... I go outside and I saw the fire and firetrucks... anyway my hubby had went up to see if he could help or whatever. And yeh it was scary as it was only a couple houses down from us.

Steve Buchheit said...

Cassie, welcome to the blog. It's interesting to see another person from Orwell.

Yeah, that night was something that stays with you. I still look at the house as I drive to work, or when I'm in the yard and remember it burning. I didn't know them well, except to wave as they drove by. I certainly hope their daughter is doing okay. I'm sure that night wasn't very kind for her to love through.