Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Forcible Fourth of July Barbecue

Yesterday, we were in Denver when Bryan's boss, our neighbor, called and told us our house was on fire.

Apparently, some kids who may or may not have lived there were playing with legal fireworks and set the bush on fire, which quickly spread to the house, which spread really fast because the house is really old. The house is split into four apartments: one in the basement, one on the main floor, one in the attic, and ours, in the back, detached from the house. We weren't there, and everyone but the couple in the attic got out safely. The couple in the attic were rescued by firefighters.

As we sped back to town, we tried calling our friends, our neighbors, and our property manager to go and let Yasmine out, who was trapped in her kennel at the back of our apartment. Finally, our property manager showed up with a key, and our friends let Yasmine out. She was fine. All of the other dogs who live in the main house got out okay.

Our neighbor who called us told us that it looked like the fire was only at the front of the house, and our part, which is way in the back and detached, seemed fine.

When we got there, the flames were out and the firefighters were taking care of the smoke. The whole street was shut down, and the whole neighborhood was out watching. We were able to get into our house. Our neighbor was right, it was fine. It smelled like smoke on the inside, but the fire never reached us. We rushed in to grab anything we didn't want destroyed just in case the situation changed. The thing is, I couldn't really think of anything I needed once Yasmine was okay. So I grabbed my computer and my phone and helped Bryan gather some old family photos and his sentimental stuff.

When we walked around to the front of the house, my jaw dropped. I'm pretty sure I yelled, "Oh my God!"

It was much worse than I had expected. As you can see, the entire front corner of the house was destroyed. The fire even spread to the neighboring apartments and destroyed the contents of two sheds. On the other side, the flames had spread over the grass and gone right up to the neighboring house. Somehow, it stopped before it touched the other house.

In 90 degree heat, we watched for hours as the firefighters worked on the house, soaking it with water and pulling out dead wood. The kids who started the fire, who were about 12 years old and owned up to it right away, were arrested. Apparently, they were terrified that they had seriously injured someone. Thankfully, everyone was fine.

Once I saw that everyone was fine and the fire wasn't spreading, I called the news station I work for. Because I am completely ridiculous. But my mind can't shut off looking for news, and this was news. We've had tons of stories of fireworks causing house fires and brush fires in the past week. The station hadn't heard about it because Greeley is kind of far away, but when I told them what happened, they said it was huge, and they sent up a live truck. In the meantime, I took some video with my phone and sent it in. My video ended up making it on the story, which is sort of cool.

Eventually the family from downstairs was able to get back in and get some of their stuff. It sounds like their apartment is not bad--it just has some water damage. The other two are completely destroyed, and the fire marshall condemned the building.

The thing is, our apartment is an entirely separate building. And it wasn't touched. So it's completely safe to be there, but we have no utilities since they were shut off to fight the fire. So now we're waiting to find out it utilities will be restored, or if we have to move again, a month and a half after moving into the most perfect apartment ever. Right now, we're staying with friends at night and at the house during the day.

A week ago, I had two houses. We had sold our old house, and handed it over last Monday. Now, I may have no houses. It's crazy how quickly things change. But we really ended up with the best situation. We lost nothing, really, in the fire, when our neighbors lost everything. We may have to move, but they definitely have to move. Somehow, we keep ending up with the best parts of the worst situations.


Jessica said...

WOW! I am so sorry to hear that! Fireworks have always made me nervous, especially when kids are using them, and this is why! I'm glad to hear everyone got out safely and that your apartment wasn't affected. I hope you are able to stay in your new place!

Caiti said...

That is crazy!