(Diane’s comments about the Fire on February 28th, 2013)
“Father Knows Best”
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, we live in a rural area of Utah. While living in the country has many wonderful advantages, access to fire hydrants is not one of them.
On February 28th, we lost our home to what started out as a small attic fire. After listening to our description of the events, the official said that he was fairly certain it was a result of blown in insulation resting against the wood stove chimney flue. No alarms were triggered because there was no smoke to warn us.
Bill usually rises between 5 and 6 to feed the animals and to horse around with the dog. I, on the other hand, like to sleep late when I don’t have to work. That morning he uncharacteristically came back to bed because he had not slept well.
At about 8:45, he jarred himself awake and said, “What’s that crackling sound?” I was reading and reluctantly left off to follow him around looking for the source of the strange sound. It seemed to be coming from above our walk-in closet, so we got a stepladder from the laundry room (all of this takes precious time, of course) and climbed up to push open the door to the crawl space.
Seeing it ablaze, Bill ran to the basement for the extinguisher while I called 911. We had a pellet stove upstairs and a wood burning stove blazing away in the basement, but no smoke was seen in the basement at that time.
Seeing flames on our roof, our neighbor, Janet Thomas, rang and pounded on the door to alert us. I was still in my robe, so I ran back to our (still smokeless) closet to grab some sweatpants. But before I had time to dress myself completely, Bill began pushing me to leave. “Just get out of the house!” he was yelling. Although I felt no real urgency, I reluctantly complied, asking him to grab my computer in the loft… “just in case.” It has my most valuable possession, pictures of my babies.
I wandered across the lot to my son’s house, locked up the dogs to keep them out of the firemen’s way and started worrying about how much damage the water they used to put out the fire would do to our belongings. By then, the Rush Valley volunteer fire department had arrived and was already dragging out the hoses and marching through the house. I remember thinking they could at least shut the doors as they assessed the situation.
Bill and I had pulled our vehicles out of the garage, so I sat in the car for a while to watch. There was a fierce wind, cold and icy, and though I had grabbed my coat, I soon gave up the vigil and went inside Bill and Teresa’s house to kill time and stay out of the way.
In a short while, Kevin Russell, a member of our ward and the Fire Chief in Rush Valley, came into Teresa’s kitchen to tell us that they were pretty sure they would be able to save the loft. For some strange reason, I still could not generate any real concern. I thought, “Well, that’s good. We won’t lose our files.”
At some point, the fire trucks from the surrounding communities arrived, bringing more water. The doorbell at Teresa’s rang periodically and nearby neighbors who could get around the fire trucks blocking the road came in to lend emotional support. We talked and laughed and retold the story of how the fire had been discovered. We nattered on about the two full freezers of meat being cooked if the fire made it’s way into the garage, (we had just butchered a steer,) the fact that I had just finished all the ironing that had piled up for the last 6 months, and how I wanted to repaint the kitchen anyway.
Soon, Kevin was back with an update. They had lost the loft. He said that the floor had given way, and they were taking the crew out, but that they might still be able to save the kitchen. At the other end of our “horseshoe” floor plan, it was difficult to comprehend how it had gotten so far!
For the first time, I understood that the fire had taken everything of real value. The kitchen had nothing compared to what the fire had already consumed.
I walked outside to see the flames leaping over the gables and billowing out of the top of the loft. A glass window on the garage side, facing me, was bowed out in a great bubble, ready to burst at any moment. I knew for myself then that the whole house was gone.
I thought sadly of our contractor son, Bill, who had tried to make this home the house of our dreams. When he had left for the airport that morning, it had been like any other morning. We might have waved to him as we began our daily routines of kicking the dogs out of the garage when we left or helping them get their kids off to school.
We watched the fire for the rest of the afternoon, until the firemen rolled up their hoses and pulled out, helpless to do anything themselves but watch it burn to the ground. I thought of family dinners on Sundays and holidays, the hours of custom painting I did throughout, the Navajo rugs of my mother’s, the un-recovered photos and documents.
But I did not shed one tear.
It is almost a month ago since the fire took everything we own, but I still have not wept for anything lost. I’m not sure why. Some say the grief will come later, but I hope not. In the place of the “things” we lost, I have found things that I thought were missing.
I have seen my children give us a mature selfless love that I had not really experienced before.
I have renewed the relationship with my sister who has shown to be a great friend and ally. That alone makes the losses worth it.
I discovered that my friends in Rush Valley and the vicinity nearby are really an extended family.
And I have discovered old friends who never forgot me. (I am crying now as I write this because it is absolutely true.)
Thank you for helping me through this, family, friends and even strangers. I have learned some lessons that I could not have learned any other way. And though it might sound strange… (I believe that we are really only on this planet for a few minutes when we compare it to the eternity to come) I actually thank Heavenly Father for the experiences of the past month.
I think He does know best.