A Phone Call
Yesterday I was at work when I got a call from my friend who lives next door. He said that he had just talked to his wife, and that our neighborhood was in danger of going up in flames. There was a fast moving grass fire that was quickly consuming much of the adjacent wetlands marshy area. If the firefighters weren’t able to keep the blaze in check, it could threaten some of the homes in our neighborhood. He suggested that we go home and get anything that was important to us, just in case.
A Smoky Mess
When we arrived back in our neighborhood there was smoke everywhere. The air was thick, and it was a bit hard to breathe. I had called my wife on my way home, and she arrived there before me, and made sure that the dog was ok. She then proceeded to pack up everything that was important to us. What did that consist of? Our wedding photos and our dog.
It’s amazing how when you’re in a stressful situation like that, how nothing really seems important anymore except for your loved ones, your family pet and maybe a few sentimental items. All the rest of your possessions just seem like things that can be replaced, unimportant trappings of this life.
The Fire Was Fierce
The fire spread through the wetlands area at a rapid pace since many of the hot zones were out near the water where the firefighters couldn’t get at it.
The flames moved quickly inland and threatened many of the homes that lined the wetlands area around the lake. One home in particular was in extreme danger as the flames, aided by a brisk wind, moved to within yards of the home.
The firefighters set up a perimeter around the house, wet everything down, and made a stand. Aided by their high powered hoses, some high tech marsh buggies and by their bravery, they beat back the flames before they could consume the home.
After fighting the flames for over 3 hours, most of the fire had been contained. Amazingly no homes had been damaged (except by smoke), and no one was hurt. That was a huge blessing, and in my opinion a miracle.
Going through this just made me realize how unimportant our things are. The last thing on my mind when I thought our house might burn down was all the stuff we have in that house. What if it burns – who cares? More important were things like family and friends and our faith that gave us the hope that even if something did happen, we would be alright.
After all the fires had died down and our homes were safe we were allowed to go down near where the flames had been the worst. It was like a barren smoking wasteland down there. It made us realize just how lucky everyone had been. If it hadn’t been for the 6 volunteer fire departments that rushed to the scene, things could have been disastrous. Those brave men and women saved our homes, and probably some lives as well. Our thanks and gratitude go out to them.
Here’s a quick video I put together of the fires yesterday.
Remember to make sure that you’re prepared for a fire. Make sure your smoke detectors are working and have new batteries every year! Keep a fire extinguisher handy, and have other measures ready – like second floor escape ladders!
Have you ever been through a disastrous event like this one? Did it make you realize the importance of things in your life beyond just your stuff?
No Debt Plan says
Wow. Glad everything was okay. Saw your updates yesterday on Twitter — didn’t realize it was that close to your house.
Thank God it wasn’t any worse. This is a real picture of why we lay up treasure where rust and moth don’t destroy, thieves can’t steal (and fire doesn’t consume).
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I haven’t been through something like a house fire, but I’ve definitely thought about this question and agree with you. I would be getting my pets out of there, and then some key personal items/mementos which I’d have identified beforehand. All the other stuff you wouldn’t even think about.
Baker @ ManVsDebt says
Followed your twitter updates throughout the day yesterday. We were very glad you and family were ok. This year I got to help file free taxes for local police and firemen and it was one definitely one of the favorite parts of my job. The really are heroes in the local communities!
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Your wife grabbing your pet and wedding photos got me thinking what I would grab.
I think it would be: My dog, My small (light & plastic) filing cabinet with all my important documents, and my digital camera (for photos I haven’t uploaded yet).
Similar sentiment, it seems.
Glad everyone in your locale is safe and hopefully as it gets warmer you don’t have any more problems.
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Tina Fortune says
Amazing…Glad it wasn’t worse!
What a blessing that your home was spared.
My parent’s home was in the path of one of the big CA fires last year and they grabbed the family photos, the family bible, my mom’s jewelry box (lot’s of heirloom jewelry from 3-4 generations ago) and my dad’s medals from his days in the service. They threw it all in the car and headed down the mountain, not knowing if anything else they had would survive. The firefighters made a stand at the ridge just before their street, but a lot of their friends from church lost their homes. It really says a lot when we think of what we have versus what we need.
YIKES! Glad you’re ok. Hope that’s the end of the fire worries
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Get Out of Debt Guy says
Getting rid of 80% of my stuff was one of the most liberating things I have ever done. You don’t own stuff, it owns you.
Look at growing storage market industry. Now people can pay to store their stuff.
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I’m glad that everything turned out ok! Followed u yesterday on twitter.
Made me think about what I would grab…have to say the only thing would be my kids…everything else is just stuff!!!
We had a scare a few months ago when my son’s electrical outlet caught fire and by the grace of God only the wall was damaged. It was still arcing when we got home. There was melted plastic everywhere, on his clothes, bed, papers and it blew a hole in his door and yet our 1905 farm house was still standing. Makes you realize what is important.
I luckily have never (knock on wood) but I can imagine what it must be like for those involved. It’s nice to hear no one got hurt though. Does make you think twice, and how things are important, but not in the scheme of things.
I agree — a miracle. Thankfully, you are ok.
As the wife of a volunteer Firefighter, I just want to say Thank you for this post. Because the Volunteer Firefighters get so little support.
We made sure to go up to the firefighters and thank them for saving our neighborhood. They were very appreciative and gracious. Thanks to all the volunteer firefighters out there!
Wow. Amazing photographs. So happy you and your family and neighbors are OK. I was in a big car accident last week. I am very lucky to have walked away from the wreck that is now my car. Stuff has little consequence…people are priceless.
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Jason Lewis says
This is an excellent read and right on. As a father we four little children at home, I often forget how many things can be easily replaced. I get angry, sometimes real angry, when they mess something up or break something I will have to replace. I suspect after reading this I am reminded how trivial the messes are and how replaceable our stuff really is. Thanks!
Rick Vaughn says
Wow, that’s insane. How does a fire blaze in marshlands?
Glad to know everyone was OK! When I left my abusive ex-husband seven years ago (I was 23 at the time), I had to leave almost everything behind. I had my computer, clothes and my car. Nothing else mattered. In a different way, I understand the feeling.
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I’ve been through a couple of close calls with tornados. When you hear that hail and ‘freight train coming’, and you are hunkered down in the basement, it’s really remarkable how your priorities change
My dog, my ‘panic bag’ and a few momentos. I really need to digitize all the family photos and store them online…..
Everybody do some disaster planning, please. Better to have and not need, then need and not have.