Saturday, January 19, 2008

House Fire

I was sitting on my couch enjoying the quiet when I heard the siren from the fire hall start to scream. I didn't think much of it at first (it tends to ring for drills, false alarms and other reasons unknown to me) until Monty came in the door and told me there was a fire across town. We jumped on Monty's skidoo and as we were cutting across the bay it looked to me like the school was on fire. It was pretty dark and all I could see was an ominous glow coming from somewhere behind the school. As we got closer we could tell that it was in fact a residence up the hill behind the school engulfed in flames.

The blaze produced a great deal of smoke which changed direction a number of times due to the shifting winds. At one point, I felt it prudent to watch the goings-on from behind a few houses. The heat began to cook off some rifle cartridges which punctuated the general chaos with some loud cracks.

Fortunately no one was hurt though I did come across one young lad crying uncontrollably who seemed to hint that there were people inside. I did my best to calm him down until I found a few community members in the crowd of onlookers who were able to speak with him and settle his nerves. I discovered through some quick conversations that no one was hurt, which was a big relief. Our community suffered the death of a young baby yesterday so I was relieved that we had averted further tragedy.

I came to appreciate the unique challenges facing firefighters in northern communities. We have one small pumper truck which was being supported by a water truck from the community. The second water truck is currently out of commission. It didn't take long for the water truck to run out at which point it had to return to the water lake to re-fill. In the meantime, the fire flared up again. A fork-lift was brought in to remove the fuel tank from the side of the house. The water truck returned and after a few more minutes it looked like the blaze was finally under control.

I headed back home up the hill once it looked like things were under control and I would only be in the way. I did stop into the school just to see if I could smell any smoke since the wind had blown quite a lot of it down the hill. I noticed a bit of a smokey smell in the foyer and down in the high school end but nothing too bad. I have memories of a neighbor's house burning to the ground when I was 12 and of a fire during school hours when I was teaching in Saskatchewan not all that long ago so I am greatly relieved that no one was hurt.


Rob & Tina said...

Fires up here are very scary. We had quite a few this summer and one not to long ago here in the community. Good to hear no one was hurt. Dare I ask what happened to the baby who died the day before?

Bonnieupnorth said...

So sorry to hear about the fire..very close to our offices. Remember the almost tragic fire last summer. No life lost but two young families lost all their belongings.

Way Way Up said...

Bonnie, we have a donation box set up at the school for the family. Everyone pulls together to try to help out the best they can - one of the things I like about small town life.

Rob and Tina, as far as I know, the baby died in its sleep. Both families are in my thoughts tonight.