Last night Michael stepped outside and noticed flames shooting up from the roof of the house across the street. There was a small group of teenagers standing next to a parked car, looking on in awe. Michael yelled at them to ask if any one had called 911. One girl yelled back that she was on the phone with them now. I ran to my room and threw on some shoes and a coat. Michael did the same. We stepped outside and could hear a guy banging on the door to the house yelling the owner's name. Michael ducked back inside, ran to the garage and grabbed our sledge hammer. Then the two of them took turns busting open the door, while yelling for the owner. They finally managed to bust the door open, but had to shove the door because of all the stuff pilled up around it. The house was thick with smoke. It was determined that the owner wasn't home, but no one felt it was safe enough to go inside and check.
The firetrucks started to arrive (seven in all) and we all stepped back out of the way. Many of us stood on the sidewalk across the street, watching the firefighters work. The owner, thankfully was not home at the time of the fire. Michael said that from what he could see, he suspected the man of being a hoarder. There are five cars parked in his driveway and none of them are in running condition. The roof was still visibly smoldering an hour later. I fell asleep to flashing red and blue lights reflecting through the window and dancing on the ceiling. When I left for work this morning, it was still dark. The house, still over grown and shadowed behind trees, didn't look any different than usual. The street was quiet and all of the cars still lined the driveway. The hint of a charred wood smell was the only indicator that the fire had even taken place.
When I was a kid, we'd hear the firetrucks and Dad would say "hop in the truck! let's see where they go!" The firetrucks never led us out to a house fire. We always ended up in one of the many rolling fields that filled up the spaces between towns. Grassfires. Someone said to me today "Oklahoma just seems to get all the weather. Ice storms and crazy tornadoes." She forgot to mention the grassfires and the burn bans. I remember the time we were all sent home from high school early because there was a grassfire a field over and the winds had shifted. The high school sits just on the outskirts of town. As you drive east on Highway 20, the first thing you come to is the Collinsville cemetery on the right. As soon as you pass the cemetery, the high school is there on the left. Fields and farm land lead up to it all. Watching the grass burn is as a familiar of a sight as watching the clouds swirl in the sky.
But a house fire? That was a new sight. I have seen burnt out shells of homes and buildings, but never the actual fire until last night. I felt an urgent need to do something, had even ran across the street prepared to help drag anyone or anything out of the burning building if need be. I was also really worried that once Michael and the neighbor busted down that door, that both of them would head inside the house, searching for life. Just as they got the door open, part of the roof caved and this was what we were seeing from the outside. There was no telling about what was happening inside the house. In the end, all of us came to our senses and backed away from the house, but there was the tiny fraction of a moment where I would consider our actions to be unsafe if you think house fires turn out like they do in the movies.
This house fire, thankfully did not turn out like a house fire in the movies.