Thursday, June 12, 2008

One of the most upsetting times of my life

Fire season is starting here in the US, hot summer, dry winds dry weeds and grasses. We have already had a few devastating fires here in Northern California.
. My Mom and Dad have lived in the same home since 1979. To say we are attached to that house, and its contents, are an understatement. Especially me, probably, because I really did spend every formative year there. I played countless hours of flute in the bedrooms. I got ready for proms. I studied. I laughed, I cried, I kicked a hole in the bedroom door......
I came back to it after my marriage split and I needed refuge. Where once again I laughed, cried, and studied for nursing school.
My parents raised their children there. They raised a dog and half dozen cats, and a few birds, there. They've remodeled. Added on decks. Outbuildings.
My Dad, diligently, constantly hacked at the weeds and scrub growth, killing rattlesnakes and nearly himself sometimes, every year, to ensure there was a proper fire break around the house.
But yet, a few years ago, they almost lost it all.
Some arse wipe without a brain in his head noticed his engine getting hot, and pulled off the road, INTO THE WEEDS. Instead of staying on pavement, or turning onto a smaller street, he pulled, off into the weeds, and started a fire that burned down nearly half the county.
Including my Mom and Dad's house.
At one point, they showed a section, a very recognized section, of my Mom and Dad's property, burning. What I recognized was the big, giant, grandfatherly pine, right next to the house. Up in flames. Then they showed a burning house. And I went hysterical.
My Mom and Dad were actually watching, for awhile, from a safe place a few miles away. They live on top of a hill, and were looking up. Praying the house would not burn. Then the sun went down, and they could not see anymore. So they went to a hotel room. Crying.
We found out later, that luck saved the house, really, and the grace of God. There was a news crew actually on the ground over there, and a fire crew nearby. The house, or parts of it, did catch on fire. The back decking they had added on. But the crew's that were there were quick, and pried burning boards out of the decking and got rid of them. My Dad's woodshed, with all his firewood for the winter (how ironic) burnt down. They used some of his lumber that he makes things out of as "stepping stones" across the hot ash. They called in helicopters to drop water right on the house. Numerous times. And they saved the house. The news crew took a picture of these men, cheering and relaxing on my Mom and Dad's lawn. ( My pictures are all packed right now, or I would post it). We got a copy of the picture this last year. We would love to have all those men over for a good bbq, but we don't know who they are!
The aftermath was devastating. Middle sister and I drove down the next day, as soon as we could get in. Everything in the house was covered with ash. The water wasn't useable for close to 3 weeks. The land around them was grey, burnt, destroyed. It looked like mars. The old, beautiful pine? Ruined. What was left of it had to be chopped down. But they still had a house. Our home.
So I write this in the hopes that if you have a hot engine, you won't pull into the weeds. In the hopes that if you have a house, you will maintain the property properly, with good fire breaks. (I know MM and I will). I hope none of you, or us, have to go through what my parents did. Or what the over 20 other families who actually LOST their homes.
Fires are serious things. Lets do what we can to prevent them. Including, dropping money in the fireman's boots when you see them. Or thanking them for doing their difficult job.


Daryl said...

I am glad the house survived ... sad about the tree .... and you're right .. every fireman is a hero and everyone deserves thanks ...


Bubblewench said...

Holy crapoly... I"m just glad everyone/thing came out okl...

Mimi said...


Thanks be to God! I've seen them come close to my parents' house, but not THAT close, yikes!

sybil law said...

Thank God for firemen, too!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Blimey Mie, that must have been awful. Firefighters are amazing.

holly said...

wow! that is awesome that the house was saved!!! stupid stupid people. i bet he was driving a hummer. he was, wasn't he? really?