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March 15, 2009

Chimney Fires and Local Heroes


Our house is never short on excitement, and Saturday night was definitely exciting - but not in a good way.  We were all snuggled up in the family room enjoying a movie "The Bourne Identity" that we had seen a number of times before.  The lights were out and we had a roaring fire burning in the fireplace.  It had been cold and rainy all day.  The fire felt good.  Until ...



Until Big Bear pitched a Wendy's bag into the fire.  Two seconds later, with the movie on pause, we heard a "Woooooosh,"  but until Bob looked at me with grave concern, I hoped it was nothing serious.  Suddenly, Bob went running through the kitchen and I jumped up from the couch screaming "Oh My God" knowing that it was serious, and yelling for the children to get outside - NOW!  As I ran outside with Bob and the children, yelling for Adolf and Hannah to follow suit,  I saw what I hoped I would never see in my lifetime - my chimney was on fire.  Flames were shooting up to 5 feet out of the chimney and flames and sparks were pouring onto the roof, the deck, and the backyard.  I prayed - oh - and screamed too.  I'm emotional like that.



Kathleen said to me "Mom, calm down, it'll be alright" but with Bob frantic and running around trying to get the hose hooked up, I felt helpless.  We called 911 and I prayed some more - that the fire department would arrive before my entire house was on fire.  Could this get any worse?  You're damn right it could!  The house was filling with smoke.  I'm a crazy person, so knowing the children were safe, I grabbed my computer, my purse, oh, and of course my camera from our upstairs bedroom.  Hey!  The house wasn't burning down yet, so I got it, okay?!!!  I did touch the wall, though, that backed up to the fireplace below, and it was hot.



Bob stayed on the phone with the 911 operator.  I knew that the fire department from Wesley Chapel had to respond, but I never expected that the Providence fire department which was just down the street, would respond quickly.  Why?  Probably because I never see anyone there and have heard through the grapevine that they are slow on responding.  So, to my surprise, not only was the Providence Fire Department the first to arrive about 2-3 minutes after the call, but Wesley Chapel was right behind them.  "Thank you God" was all I could say, and then tears started streaming down my cheeks as I held my grandson close to me.



Matthew, Sarah, and our wonderful pets, Adolf and Hannah, ran to the neighbor's house.  It was late when all of this occurred, about 9:45 in the evening, and Jan and Dan were probably asleep as their lights were out and the children and dogs were at their door ringing the doorbell.  But they let them all inside and comforted the children.  Jan later told me that when she looked out her bedroom window, she saw flames coming from our chimney - she couldn't believe what she was seeing.  Jan and Dan are such wonderful neighbors.  It's like having family right next door.



The firemen were on the job, putting a heavy ladder up to the side of the fireplace.  As the minutes passed, fortunately, the flames shooting out of the chimney had turned to flames and sparks, then to sparks.  Now, my worry turned to the brave fireman who were on my roof.  It had been raining all day (Thank God for that too, as that probably prevented our roof and deck from catching fire), so I was concerned that it was slippery up there.  Our roof is steep as well.  Next thing I noticed was that I was not the only one outside taking pictures of this event.  There was a young guy with camera and bag in hand taking pictures in my backyard.  He looked at me and said "Are you a reporter, who do you work for?"  I responded "No, this is my house and that's my house on fire."  He looked at my camera and said "Nice camera."  Naturally, I thanked him and then told him this was all happening for the purpose of having something to write about in tomorrow's post on my blog.  Of course I was kidding, and the fire had calmed down quite a bit by then.  I had a chuckle.


Ya think I should tell these guys that Big Bear regularly starts the fires in our fireplace with a blow torch? 



The firemen were wonderful, professional, hard-working, and fast at what they do.  Josh Dye, one of the fine heroes from Providence Fire Station wanted me to know that he was from Providence and that they do respond quickly.  I noted that they had, and told him how appreciative I was that they were fast in responding.  It eased my mind greatly.  "Thank you Josh.  Thank you to all the wonderful men of the Providence Fire Department and the Wesley Chapel Fire Department for being prepared, prompt, and professional.  For making me feel safe.  For protecting my home from near disaster.  Thank you so much - for being our heroes."


And as for Grumpy here - he was so excited to meet a real live Fireman that he has decided that he wants to be a fireman when he grows up. 



Happy Holidays

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