I just LOVE how our little fire truck sidled up to pose beside the “big boy” fire truck!
We had a chimney fire! I’m so excited about that, because #1: everything and everyone is OK. (it could have gone so bad in so many ways!!) and #2: my children got to learn and see how the whole process goes from calling 911 to heading back into your house after the firemen leave. Also- it’s been a catalyst for some very sweet, comforting, and encouraging things to happen. For those that want the whole story of “What happened?!”…
The Mr. was home that day from work, which is always a treat, but was extra special that day. Another rarity was that we were both in the dining room, and that no children were. There was a whooshing/roaring noise which, now is easy to describe as a roaring fire, but which at the time caused us to look at one another and simultaneously ask “Do you hear that?” He said that it sounded like an airplane, and I cracked (because I always say this when there’s a weird noise) “I hope the chimney isn’t on fire!” He, being the energetic, inquisitive, action guy that he is, trotted outside to investigate. I leaned my head against the wall where the chimney is & listened, really not thinking that a chimney fire was a possibility, but wanting to tell The Mr. that I had checked. ;0)
(by the way, if you ever think that your chimney is on fire, go look. It won’t sound much different with your head up against the wall.)
He came back in, really quickly and excited, and said “It is!” and silly me, I thought he meant it really is an airplane! I said “Oh yeah?” and he said “It’s about 5 feet up!”
I stopped and chewed on the idea of an airplane being 5 feet up.
I followed him. “What??”
“Chimney’s on fire!! Flames are about 5 feet tall!!” This as he’s busily shutting down the flue and the draft on the fireplace insert in the dining room.
“I think I’ll call 911…” me; calmly, a little hesitantly. (Is this 911-worthy?)
“911, what is your emergency?”
“I’m not sure this is an emergency, but my chimney is on fire?”
“Oh yes! That’s an emergency! You need to get out of the house!”
>>(here’s where I’m really proud of my children!)<<
I went to the living room (where the children were) and quietly told them “I”m on the phone with 911. There’s a fire. Grab your buddy and get out.” By the time I was done saying that, the first ones were out the door – with blankets around the little ones! The house was empty within 45 seconds.
We reconvened at our “safe spot” & bundled into our van (it was below freezing!) to wait for the fire trucks, which, as they are less than a block away from us, showed up in less than 3 minutes.
The fire department showed up emphatically- I think there were 8 or more trucks all here at one time! We watched them clambering around our roof, going in and out of the house, up and down ladders with different tools and equipment. Some of the children were very excited, some were curiously interested, and one was very *very* worried about a favorite stuffed animal on their bed. After many reassurances that, if there were real danger of the house going up the firemen would be running more, and that The Mr. and I would have been chucking precious things like stuffed animals and blankies out windows and doors, the worry was (mostly) assuaged and interest reigned.
Final verdict, after ceilings being opened to check for fire / damage to rafters etc, thermal imaging done on the walls, and many many many “chimney bombs” being dropped down our chimney (to put out the fire and avoid water damage): Our chimney is badly cracked in several places and the creosote buildup is (was?) “amazing”.
No fires til the chimney guy that the rental management company hired shows up, so for heat we’re using a propane heater that we’d been using to warm the end of the house that the fireplace heat couldn’t quite reach, and 2 kerosene heaters loaned from Grandpop and Grandmom. The house is chilly, but not unbearable (it is winter, after all!). Actually, now that the worst of the cold snap is (hopefully) over, those are keeping us just as warm as the fire was. Just costing a lot more!
Out of all of it, 2 main things are forefront in my mind about the whole thing.
(1) How very very grateful I am that it all happened when it did – it wasn’t pouring rain; we weren’t sound asleep in bed; we were here to call the fire department; it was a moment (second?) when the children weren’t in the room, so we heard it right away; The Mr. was home… Really, if it was going to happen, it was a perfect time.
and (2) how many really nice, caring, generous people we know. We’ve spent several years holed up together, licking our wounds, healing, growing together in some beautiful ways, and recovering from some bitterness and cynicism. When this all happened, the fire trucks hadn’t been there for 10 whole minutes when I was getting texts on my phone from a lovely group of ladies I’ve met lately, making sure we were ok and asking what we needed. Within an hour, my fabulous neighbor showed up and piled the younger members of my tribe into her van and carted them off to her (warm!) house, then kept them while I wiped and vacuumed ashes before dropping them off so that I wouldn’t have to go and get them. We’ve had offers of heaters, blankets, living rooms, and living space.
I could make a lot of spiritual applications here, and a lot of object lessons, and all kinds of metaphors and things. I’m not going to though. One thing I know that I believe firmly is the voice of the Divine speaking into every soul, clearly and unmistakeably. So I will learn what is spoken to me, and you will learn what is spoken to you, and we will journey on.