a little more than a week before christmas there were emergency vehicle lights flashing in our neighborhood.
the dogs started barking up a storm around 5am one morning, i barely registered it since i had to get up in an hour to start getting the kids off to school. i got up at six and saw the flashing lights as i let the dogs out in the backyard. there were several vehicles at a neighbor's house whose back yard butts up to ours a bit. got everyone off to school and the vehicles were still there. the hubs called me a few minutes after he left the house and drove by the neighbor's house--a car crashed into their house.
the car plowed through two neighbors' mailboxes and a tree and a porch column before ramming a huge hole into the third BRICK house. do you know how fast you have to be going and how hard you have to hit a brick wall to knock a hole in it? not a little hole, but a hole a person could walk through. we still don't know what was going on w/ the driver---drunk? fell asleep? brake failure? but he walked away w/ minor scratches and did more than $45k worth of damage to the house. they've just started rebuilding the front of it.
today, around 1:30 the dogs started going crazy, much like they do when a squirrel is in the back yard or someone is walking down the street. i let them out in the back yard and noticed smoke but chalked it up to someone burning leaves. the dogs came back in, i started running the sweeper and they started going crazy again. i saw more smoke and a lot of it. i opened the garage door and the neighbor's house directly across the street was engulfed in flames. there were six fire trucks on the street. my heart leapt into my throat. although we don't know our neighbors other than to wave at them, i worried that they might be inside. it didn't seem like any of the firefighters were rushing around like a life was at stake though and they seemed focused on getting the car out of the garage. the fire raged on, reminding me of how quickly our christmas tree burned in the fire pit outside a few years ago.
my next door neighbor came outside (she's one of the ones who lost a mailbox in the above story) and said she noticed small flames when she went to get her mail and ran in and called 911; when she came back outside the whole side of the house was on fire. luckily nobody was home, but it was awhile before i knew that. i was sick just thinking about it, even though we don't know them.
the husband and wife had been out, separately, and he got home before she did. although it is so lucky they weren't home (i think he's actually retired) i cannot imagine driving up and seeing my home engulfed in flames. i called the hubs, cos i'm like that. i worried that the girl would freak out when she got off the bus, she was fine. the hubs came home shortly after the girl got home and the firetrucks were still there, still hosing it down. i'm sure they've lost everything, or most everything. the school called when it was time for the boy to come home--the bus driver said she couldn't get down our road so the hubs went to pick him up.
people from the neighborhood were standing in our yard, watching the fire. the local news ran their cable across our front yard and driveway. in one of the shots where they're talking to a fireman you can see our house in the background. at one point a reporter from the local paper came up and tried to interview me. i declined. partly because i was still too stunned to even say anything and partly because it's the same little paper that has never even had the courtesy to send me a rejection letter when i've applied for jobs there.
i was not one of the neighbors who went over and talked to the couple. i felt weird. i didn't want to seem like a gawker. i didn't want the only time i've ever had a conversation w/ them other than a wave from the lawn mower or car to be on the day their house burned down. i feel like a tool for not going over there. the whole thing is so upsetting.
i already freak out unnecessarily about stuff. like if i happen to be driving down a road i know the hubs might be on during the work day and there's a wreck, i hold my breath until i see the car isn't his. or, i've been driving home before, heard sirens, seen smoke and panicked thinking it was my house and of course when i got closer to my house the fire was miles away. i know that couple is so very lucky that neither of them were hurt, but i cannot fathom the devastation. the memories gone. the shock they must be going through.
i think tomorrow i'm going to check the smoke alarm batteries and see how old the fire extinguisher in the kitchen is.