Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It was 7:15 that overcast Thursday morning as I was dressing for work. Oftentimes, there is noise out on the street in our condominium campus, but this time, the noise was different. The sounds were like full aluminum soda cans being tossed into the back of a pick-up truck full of ice. But when it got more intense and sounded like wooden planks being slammed to the ground, I had to look out my bedroom window to see what was all the commotion. What I saw was a huge fire ball coming from my next door neighbor’s garage. I grabbed my phone to call 911 but my fingers were fumbling and it just wouldn’t go through. I then heard a male voice yell “FIRE!” and a female voice screaming “Get out of the house! Get out of the house!”

 I  sped outside to help and observed people assisting the neighbors and their pets to evacuate. We live in town homes, and my unit is on the end of a 4 - grouping and the home on fire was on the end of the next 4 grouping. My unit has an attached garage and two stories whereas the neighbor's home was single story with detached garage. We're not connected, but separated by a mere 30 feet.

I spotted clusters of fire dripping off  the side of the blazing garage facing my front door and setting the  ground vegetation on fire. I grabbed my garden hose in attempt to put out the small flames, but it was kinking up;constricting the water flow. My neighbor on the other side assisted to unbend the rubber tubing, but it took awhile and I was becoming quite anxious. "Please hurry!" I cried out. While I was dousing the plants that were aflame, people were telling me to get back; that it might blow. The heat was intense. Someone else said I should not spray water on the fire in the event it could flare up. I knew this! I was only watering the plants to keep it from spreading towards my home. I was able to extinguish the ground fire and put the hose away by the time the fire department arrived.
 It took awhile to get the fire subdued, but Praise God; it was  mainly contained to the detached garage.

As the fire was being doused, thick grey smoke blew over into my open garage. The joining condo to the right of the fire was vacant for renovations, but fire fighters had to kick in the front door so that they could access the garage in order to vent the shared wall. Heat from the flames warped the metal garage doors of the two neighbors directly across from the fire. The Star Jasmine plants that are up against my outer garage wall turned brown from heat damage, as well as leaves on the large oak tree between our homes.

 Once the fire was fully out, and the fire inspectors completed their work, authorities constructed a covered fencing across the carcass of the garage, and boarded up the exit door and blown out windows.

Before the fire was extinguished, my neighbors who are Christians, arrived on scene and were comforted by the numerous neighbors in our community. They are loved and respected on our block and would help anyone. They often attended to my two cats when I went away for short trips.

My neighbors lost some treasured recreational toys stored in their garage, but their living areas only experienced smoke damage. They will stay with family and hopefully return when the unit is restored. My friends trust God for directions on what next to do.

I like taking pictures of things, but while the fire was going, I just could not do it for I felt it was violating my friends. I don’t know if that makes any sense. However, I did take photos of the damage and clean-up.

I do not understand why I  still feel so traumatized by the event, even now, three weeks later. Yes, it was scary, and happened to people I care about, but they are safe and will be okay. it was only material things they lost. Yet, there remains the yellow “fire line- do not cross” tape strung across the pole on my front porch and past my front door, and I see the home several times a day. I pray for the family each time I glance over at their home.

 The emptied home now sits and waits. It's so sad.



  1. Oh, Barb - it would scare me too! So close! Wow. Praying for you and your neighbors.

  2. Are you kidding? I'm traumatized just reading this! I would think it would take awhile to get over this. And I'm proud of you for not taking photos of the burning building. That was very considerate.

    Oh and the link on the a2z site takes me to facebook.

    Guess we're both having an off day.

  3. FYI: The "troops" have just pulled up to work on the damaged house. Tears spilled. Glad I'm leaving for work so won't be watching.

  4. What a terrifying scene. So thankful for the safety of you and your neighbors.

  5. It would scare me too! So glad the family, pets and neighbors are okay! Don't think I could have snapped photo's either. Hugs!

  6. A similar thing happened to my family when vacationing at our time share condo when the vacation home next door (right on the other side of our wall) burned down. Thankfully no one was in that house at the time. (and I wasn't with my family that time)

    I imagine part of the reason it's traumatizing is because it hits home how easily that could happen to any of us. Our lives are fragile. Thank God we have Him to hold onto. (((Hugs)))

  7. I remember when you posted this to FB and / or FW. How scary! I'm so thankful your neighbors were not injured. Praying for your (and their) peace.

  8. Scary! We had to evacuate from our home a couple years back because of a fire. It was a definite wake up call about what's really important and what isn't!
    Comfort and peace to you and to your neighbors!

  9. Fire is so scary! So. scary! Glad everyone was okay!!


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