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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lessons from a House on Fire

My friend Chris' house burned down at 11:50a today, he was home & his stove pipe which had just been repaired the night before, caught on fire & he tried to fight it himself during the TWENTY minutes it took for firetruck to get there! He lived on the Hudson River in Riparius, about 4 miles from me. 

He's ok but his 6 cats are running wild, he only found one [UPDATE: All were found & safely adopted out]. They are outdoor cats so even if I could take one or two, they would be miserable (I won't let cats out) & mine would be defenseless against them as Romeo is declawed & does not have the shots for contact with other animals or outdoor illnesses. The only no kill shelter I know of can't take them all & again, being outdoor cats would be misery to be caged most of the time in shelter. One is a purebred Bengal. No idea what to do, the cats are used to being on their own but they love human attention & indoor warmth too.

Anyway, Kevin came over to clean my car off & Chris showed up & pitched in, killing me with kindness, a guy that just lost everything & still in shock, helping me. He showed me a picture of the house, the firemen actually caused 90% more damage & totaled the house, than the fire itself did (started on second floor). He used up 2 fire extinguishers & water waiting for them (20 minutes!). I heard the alarm here when rescue trucks went out there. [Pic below is not from his house but is from the net].

So many lessons can be learned from this. Check that your fire extinguishers are up to date & enough to counter a blaze, including one made for electronic equipment such as computers and stereo's. Make sure life & house insurance are in effect (his was NOT!). Cleaning creosote every season is a MUST-no spending money on other things 1st. Finding ways to keep busy & surrounded with friends during such a nightmare situation. Learning to accept help from others. 

What other lessons can be learned from this, for yourself or others?

When I was 8 my entire house burned down days before Xmas while we were out of state. We came home to nothing but ashes literally, sifting through for teeny sections of photographs; nothing else, including all the gifts under tree, was left & our large family was split up all over US because no one could take us all in together. 

When I was 12 my mom set her bed on fire passed out drunk smoking a cig & I was in an attic bedroom, everyone else on ground floor. That saved their lives, the smoke woke me & I was able to get them out of the burning bed & save most of the house too. I'm extremely conscious of fire, cigs (others & mine), smoke, etc, but Kevin considers it paranoid. Not when you survive it twice, it's not, and it's not something I think about because I have ingrained safety habits learned from those experiences, but when others are careless with cigs or hot ashes, I speak up & go on alert. Wouldn't you? Oh & I never smoke in bed. 

Sad time of year to see a friend going through this & it's the 1st time in decades I've remembered my own xmas season fire losses. Guess being so up close & personal brought back the emotions of that Xmas fire at 8 years old. Good to remember & be grateful.