Sunday, July 03, 2011

Unexpected House Fire(Works)

Been There Myself And Got The Tee shirt...

So I was cruising along nicely yesterday morning happily making sawdust and torturing the Turbo Pup with her new box of 140 squeekies I had received to replace the innards in dead toys she is always chewing up.

Progress was slow but steady out in the carport and by just before noon I came back into the house to rest a few minutes from the 90 plus degree heat...promising myself that I would fire up the construction effort again (excuse the unintended'll understand when you finish reading this posting) at noon.  I had smelled smoke a few minutes earlier but just attributed it to someone burning lawn debris.

Unfortunately from about 12 PM on things didn't quite work out the way I had planned for Saturday, July 2nd, because when I walked back outside to start work I noticed that two houses down our street on the opposite side from our house black smoke was billowing out from under the partially open garage door.

I knew that our neighbor--a widow lady ten or fifteen years my senior--had just finished mowing her grass and running the weed eater, and apparently one of the two devices had mis-behaved after she put it away and she was in the house IN THE SHOWER.

I ran inside and called 911 while Pat ran next door to get our neighbor who knew the woman well and together they were able to bang on the storm door and storm windows and get her attention.

She came running outside clad in only a silk robe with no shoes, and then proceeded to run back into the building two times before we could physically restrain her and talk her into staying outside.

Here's a look at things about 15 minutes after I first noticed the fire:

Here's one of the brave fire fighters finally getting some water on things:

And here they've basically stopped things from progressing and are just beating the final hot spots down:

This whole experience strikes very close to home for me, because I had the unfortunate experience to have my house burn to the ground in April of 2001. Since I was not home at the time things were happening I had the good fortune to not having to sit there and watch the disaster unfold with a giant shower of electrical sparks when the breaker panel finally gave way or listen to the gas tanks on the lawn equipment, propane tanks, and the car gas tank and air conditioner system explode in the inferno.

Having already lived through the process however, I was amazed at the insight it gave me to help move everyone through the process. I'm not saying I'm some kind of hero or anything, I'm just saying that having dealt with the process from the inside personally gave me a punch list of things I could regurgitate in sequence/order for others to worry about from memory in the middle of the excitement.

I had to wander around trying to keep people off of the hot electrical wires--the next door neighbor insisted on trying to use his garden hose to defend his house and in the process was risking electrocution if his water stream came in contact with the current.

We basically spent the rest of the afternoon working with another dozen of our neighbors consoling the woman and helping her contact her family and the assholes at her so-called insurance company.

I use profanity--the word "assholes"--because that's the way I currently feel about the people and the corporation called Farm Bureau here in West Knoxville.

Do you know what the person which answered the telephone told us when we finally got through to them on Saturday before the Fourth of July?

"We can't possibly get anyone out there until TUESDAY because it's the WEEKEND and Monday's A HOLIDAY."

You might be "in good Hands with Allstate," but from my personal experience this year with a roof damaged by a hail storm, and now with this deal with a house fire which caused at least a loss of 50% of the property rendering it inhabitable, is that you are "shit out of luck with State Farm and Farm Bureau"...and that's a crying shame.

This woman has lived in the neighborhood for over thirty years, raised two sons, and burryed a Husband all the while paying premiums for her "Homeowner's Insurance" and just because her house burns at an "inconvenient" time they leave her sitting beside the road in a borrowed chair with no shoes.

Now here's the part of this story which could be considered a political commentary but which makes me proud that I was able to contribute and further, the way our neighbors and even some total strangers rallied around someone in need.

Don't get me wrong here...this lady was comfortable financially so she could afford to go rent a motel room and buy shoes and clothes, but she was distraught and losing her mind to the point of fainting and having to sit in an Ambulance for a half hour while they checked her out.

In the three hours following the start of the conflagration some total strangers from a nearby condo development brought her some shoes that fit and some pants and a top to wear.

When the smoke had proverbially cleared and the fire department had left the scene I was going to help her sons board up the broken windows and doors, but other people were tripping over me to help and I ended up managing the scene and watching other people swing hammers.


No state or federal declaration of disaster areas.

No government supplied Trailers and Debit Cards and Free TV's and other crap paid for at taxpayer expense.

I know I hate what happened to our neighbor this Fourth of July Weekend, but at the same time it did my heart good to be able to participate in an exercise which demonstrated that the real, fundamental, core of the American Spirit is still alive and well here in West Knoxville in July of 2011.

I wish that we could all...using an unfortunate metaphor...take the time to "fan the flames" on the embers which are left laying around in places like my neighborhood on my street in other places around the country, and restore the fundamental ideals and self sufficiency on which our country was founded in the minds of the voters before the 2012 election takes us further down the road to socialism and destruction.

O K?

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