At around 12:30 Saturday morning, I awoke suddenly out of a deep sleep for no apparent reason. The bedroom door was shut, and I saw light coming in from underneath. I opened the door and saw the living room lights were still on; one of my sons had been watching TV, went to bed and forgot to turn them off. Or had he? I thought I heard him in the kitchen.
I walked in and, although the lights were turned off, a bright orange glow filled the room, from the windows. I blinked, not comprehending, then walked to the back door and opened it.
Suddenly my vision was filled with fire – flames running along the entire length of our garage/carport, and underneath. At least two of the three vehicles already were aflame. The fire roared and was quickly growing. Still not awake, I did a double-take.
Then I ran inside the house, hollering. My wife ran upstairs and woke the boys. My elder son woke my daughter and got her downstairs; they all assembled out front. I ran back out the back door and yelled for Bosco. The dog sleeps under the house in warm weather. He would not come, and the fire was too hot and moving too fast for me to go around the corner to the place where he usually exits from underneath. I called 911 and unlocked the back gate for the firemen.
They came in about five minutes, about 60 seconds before the fire likely would’ve consumed the back of the house. But they got water on the conflagration just in time and kept at it as more trucks continued to arrive with more water. I don’t know if it was a misjudgment over how big the fire turned out to be, but they didn’t attempt to connect their hoses to the hydrant, and instead emptied the water from at least two and possibly three trucks before bringing the fire under control.
The Richmond firefighters worked hard and saved our house. I am eternally grateful to them. Two windows broke from the heat, and three sets of window blinds warped and melted, but other than that the inside of the house suffered just a little smoke damage. Outside, some wood may have to be replaced, but the old asbestos shingles prevented the house from catching.
The workshop, however, burnt to the ground, along with numerous tools, two mowers, a nice barely used kayak, a gas generator, chainsaws, weed eaters, ladders and various other things. The farm van and our two cars looked liked they’d been fire-bombed in Iraq. Many of my tropical plants, including seedlings from a rare plumeria, were roasted and toasted.
But what we lost was just stuff. That which could not have been replaced remains intact. The sun will come up, tomorrow.