My hard working husband had gone to water the cattle. I stayed home warm, cuddled on the couch. It’s colder out today than it was yesterday, even though the temperature is higher. He called and told me to look out the window, thick, black smoke was billowing up from somewhere not too far north of us. The cousins live up that way and although we knew for a fact that they weren’t home it was still concerning. He was going to look did I want to come with?
I did desperately want to come, I inherited the ambulance chasing gene fair and square from my grandma. But apparently my mothering gene is stronger, I declined stating that I was unable to leave the sleeping children. He stayed on the phone as he drove giving me a play by play as we tried to guess where it would be.
The cousins house and the church we were married in were quickly ruled out when he reached the highway. I was hoping for the house that is sitting empty waiting to go up for sale with it’s owners moved out of state. It seemed the safest, guaranteed that no one would be home or needing a place to go.
Instead it was the camper parked in the yard across the street. We had, it seemed, just driven past it coming home from town but it must have been about an hour before. Was the fire already burning then with no sign showing yet? We had looked at it as we passed, wondering why, if you were going to live in a camper in someones yard, you would put the camper right next to the highway instead of towards the back somewhere.
On the way into town we had been talking about this miserable cold weather and how it makes fires so much worse, water lines, hoses freeze making them harder to fight. And space heaters make them so much more likely. I’ve been seeing picture after picture of burnt, melted extension cords and power strips. How does one heat a camper made for temporary summer living through below zero temps?
Flames were visible nearly from where our road meets the highway. When he got to the fire there was nothing left of the camper but the frame barely visible through the fire. A handful of cars were parked along the road watching and calling it in. As he stopped a friend who is a sheriffs deputy pulled up. He said the siren in town hadn’t gone off calling the volunteers in to man the fire trucks. 911 had called him personally, he was working today. He and my husband began calling people on the fire department.
But the camper was already burnt. A fire truck and water was only going to protect the yard and do some clean up. As they stood there calling frantically, and only then, someone ran out of the house. They had only just noticed the fire. We can only hope and assume no one was inside, surly they would have done more than run back into the house if there had been.
With nothing he could do but watch and assured that it wasn’t the cousins house my husband returned home. The only thing we can take from this, two things really, is to be very careful with space heaters and any electric outlet really. Never plug a space heater into and extension cord of any kind! And shut things off when you leave home, or go to sleep. How much worse to be home sound asleep.
And love, but worry a little, about your small town volunteer fire department. The siren never went off. As the camper crumpled into ashes there was still no one even headed to the station. One would think in this age of cell phones that there would be an automatic call that would go out. Apparently there is something like that set up but word never got to the person who has to start it. Not sure why the 911 dispatcher wouldn’t be the one to send out the call? But they will get there and those guys will get out in the freezing temperatures and do everything they can to help. They are awesome, once they get there.