Monday, January 5, 2015

Fire at the Vicarage

Please forgive my absence from this blog; Christmas and all its attending brouhaha (a word I love to use) overwhelmed me. And then of course there was the fire.

On December 27th my husband put on a fire in the guest room to air the room out in preparation for our au pair coming back. Unfortunately, while he was out of the room, a spark leapt out (we think) and possibly lit the kindling stacked near the fireplace, or some other highly flammable substance, because a few minutes later the smoke alarm (thankfully!) went off and when he went upstairs the whole room was ablaze.

I am very grateful for my husband's clear, cool thinking, because I have to admit I am a panicker. Worse, I am a wring-my-hands-and-do-nothing kind of panicker. I've managed to improve slightly since having children--when my son, who was two at the time, choked on a plum pit, I possessed enough sangfroid to first give him the Heimlich and then when that didn't work, to fish the pit out with my finger while he sank his teeth deep into my knuckle. But back to the fire.

My husband told our two oldest daughters, who were oblivious to the fire in the room adjacent to them, to go downstairs and he put the contents of not one but two fire extinguishers on the blaze while we waited outside, shivering. At that point I thought maybe the mat in front of the fireplace would be a bit damaged, the room a bit smoky.


The fire reignited and my husband called the fire brigade--all volunteers, who were superb. They put out the fire and pried up the floorboards, using cameras to make sure there was no fire underneath. They also threw all the smoke and fire damaged furniture out the window.

So the room was a little more damaged than I thought. In fact, it was a burned out shell, and my daughter's room next door was covered in soot and grime.

But the good news is we have insurance. And the reason this relates to my village life? Within five minutes of the whole thing happening, people were calling, leaving messages on Facebook, offering to have us sleep at their house or borrow anything we needed. We hadn't even told anyone, but people could see the fire brigade (not to mention the smoke) at our house and so they called. They came to help fill a skip (or Dumpster, in American) with all the rubbish (trash). They offered to help clean and paint, and the girls slept in the living room for a week on a pile of a friend's duvets. I know things like this would happen even if I didn't live in a village. Friends would call round, offering help once they'd heard. I suppose the difference is how quickly the help came. How many people reached out, because they could actually *see* the smoke billowing up in the middle of the village! And despite the fire's damage, I'm grateful for how it made me count my blessings. The children had been bickering all week but the fire sobered them up a bit, drew us all together. Made us see how many friends we had, people who were willing and eager to help us. And of course we are very thankful that it wasn't any worse--if the smoke alarm hadn't gone off, if the fire had moved into the hallway and blocked the stairs... the whole house could have burned down. Children could have been hurt or worse. So yes, I am thankful.

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing isn't it? The things that make us stop and count our blessings. and even though this was a little tragic, it showed that many in the world are still caring, warmhearted and kind. Qualities that are sadly lacking in many still exists among some. I'm glad your family are all okay.