House Fire - Be Prepared!

by FactSnap - Free Business Listings & Article Submission on 02/11/2011 - 10:23 pm


 

Not too long ago, my wife and I experienced something that I hope none of you ever have to experience, a house fire.  At about 7pm on a Saturday night, my wife was in the backyard doing some gardening.  A neighbor from across the lake yelled to her and said he saw smoke coming from our house.  She ran to the garage to find an entire wall, from floor to ceiling, engulfed in flames.  My wife made it into the house where I was hanging a new light fixture in the kitchen (had nothing to do with the fire).  "Our house is on fire, our house is on fire", my wife yelled as she ran back out of the house with me a short distance behind.  Turning as I entered the garage, I saw one of the worst things I could ever image.  At that very instance, I knew that we were about to lose everything!

 

Realizing that I didn't have my cellular phone with me, I darted back into the house to retrieve the cordless phone and my car keys.  While calling 911, I raced to the side of the house to grab a hose.  Explaining my dire emergency to 911, while dragging 100 feet of hose to my garage, I suddenly realized two more hoses had been pulled to my garage by neighbors.  As several neighbors and I entered the three car garage, we were hit by a thick cloud of black smoke.  Quickly hitting the main circuit breaker to the house, I and my neighbors dropped to the ground, inching our way to the source of the fire, three hoses working as hard as they could against overwhelming odds.  "Someone hit the top of the fire, I got the base", I remember saying.  Realizing I was still holding the phone to my ear in one hand and the hose in the other, I dropped the phone and threw my keys to a bystander, "move my car so the fire department can get in", I barked.  As we continued to pour water on the flames, a sense of hope flooded over me.  "We're getting  it, keep spraying it", as if anyone had any intention of stopping.  As seconds ticked away to minutes, the once raging fire began to fade.  As firetrucks and emergency vehicles entered the court, I raced inside to find the keys to my wife's 4-runner, still parked on the far side of the garage.  Throwing the keys to neighbor, he backed the SUV out so the fire crew could have more room to work.  As they entered the garage, I and my heroic neighbors gave way.  We had beat the fire down, leaving only some burning memories for the fire department to extinguish.

 

Our home was saved last night because so many things came together at just the right time.  Without dissecting the entire sequence of events, this is what immediately comes to mind:

 

  • My neighbor from nearly a block away knew something was wrong and acted.  He didn't look the other way.  He didn't just assume we were having a barbecue.  He didn't just assume we had it under control.  He saw smoke and alerted my wife.
  • Most of my neighbors have large backyards, which require them to have extra long hoses.  These hoses were able to reach my garage to help extinguish the fire.
  • My wife and I often attend church on Saturday night, with dinner to follow.  My wife wanted to do some work around the house, so we didn't leave last night.  Had we not been home, the fire would have won.
  • My neighbors didn't sit and watch from their windows or decks.  Just as quickly as I was on top of the fire, so where they.  They didn't have to enter my burning garage, but they did.  And for that, I will be forever grateful to each and every one of them.

 

Although we lost a lot of personal affects that had been stored on metal shelves where the fire started, we were spared that which so many others have had to endure - the complete loss of their home.  If nothing good can be found in the setbacks that life throws our way, we must learn something from them.  Please learn from my experience.  Take these precautions, as they may save your home.

 

  • Install smoke detectors in your garage.  My home is very well insulated and smoke was not entering the house, therefore no smoke alarms.  Had a smoke alarm been present in the garage, we would have been alerted much earlier.
  • Make sure you have garden hoses that can reach any part of your home.
  • Have fire extinguishers throughout your house, in prominent locations where anyone can find them.  I have one, but couldn't remember where I put it.  A neighbor brought two to help fight the fire, which proved incredibly helpful.
  • Have an alarm company monitor your smoke alarms.  If a fire starts, and you're not home, quick response from the fire department may save some or most of your home and possessions.

 

The fire investigator was able to pinpoint the exact location where the fire started, on a metal shelf containing misc. items.  However, the investigator was not able to determine what started the fire.  There were no chemicals, no oily rags, nothing electrical, just normal garage stuff.  I had not been in the garage for about 45 minutes, my wife had been in the backyard for nearly an hour.  Neither of us have any idea what would have caused such a large and devastating fire.

 

We never know when tradgedy may strike, where it will come from or what will serve as the catalyst.  All we can do is learn from what we encounter and be better prepared should we encounter it again.