6 Oct 2013 – Smoke gets in the eyes
2 above pix credits to Irmo News 26 Sep 2013
To watch your house burning down is a nightmare. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. Woken Fri 20 Sep fateful morning by the alarm and smell the smoke. First thought was, did one of the kids forget to turn off the toaster as Fri morning is Pop Tarts day?
As I was staying above the garage, the stairs lead me to the kitchen, away from the other rooms of the house (pix from 2012). Ran down stairs to open the door to the kitchen which was full of smoke. Saw out of the kitchen door to see flames engulfing the blinds and the couch in the living room on fire. Ran from the kitchen thru’ the dinning room, shouting for Linn and out of the main entrance to see the rest of the family on the driveway by the mail box. Did a quick headcount to make sure all the kids were there.
The kids were all crying and we hugged each other telling them that everything is OK and that we are all safe and unharmed. Gator was then mentioned and more tears. Ensured the family that I was the last one up to let Gator out to the backyard at 0100hrs as she seemed restless and was pacing up and down in the kitchen. Being a lovely evening out, I let her stay out, so she was not IN the house. Everything was calm and quiet when I was on the back porch then.
As we watched the fire grow, I got the family to move away from the driveway in fear of explosion (gas fireplace in the house). It was 20mins before the fire trucks arrived and that 20mins seemed forever as we saw the house being shallowed by the flames. Clothed with only our PJs and with no footwear, we stood to watch the firemen in action. Kind neighbours came with clothes, footwear and food for us. Nobody could get in or out of the Avalon sub-division that fateful morning.
By the time the fire was out, we just stood speechless and not having a watch, had no clue of time. Asked the firemen if there was any chance anything might have survived in the room where I stayed. A ladder was placed to the broken window and in they went. Described exactly where my passport was located (a backpack behind the door in the corner furthest away from the main house (pix from 2012 when I was packing then). Lo and behold, they fish out the backpack and threw down to the ground. The backpack was blackened with soot but all the important documents are in tact…
Sat 5 Oct: walk organised by Avalon Houseowners Association: the kindness and generosity of family, friends, neighbours, community, church, etc are just beyond expectation and imagination. They all touched me to tears. Met with the fire heroes from Irmo Fire Department who put out the fire on that long and sad day and got whatever was salvageable for me. Today they went back into the house to get more, to discover that Linn’s wedding dress sealed in a box is in tact, have not yet opened it. Chances are that it will be black in soot!! Seemed like the family passports, some important documents and some pix may have a chance.
Gator’s (2001-2013/12+dog yrs, 85+human yrs), funeral was last week when we all said goodbye to this loving family pet. RIP sweet dog and she will be missed. Laptop found in the mess, probably has to be buried but in the meanwhile, the IT from the fire department will check it out.
The family is doing well considering the circumstances. They are moving forward in search of a new house. Thank goodness for the full insurance coverage from USAA. Linn said, if you have to go thru’ a house fire, Irmo it the place to do it! Flying off Tue 8 Oct via LAX/CA and visiting with cousins for a couple of days before heading to SIN. Leaving with a very heavy heart and head, but know that they are OK with their positive attitudes, faith and surrounded by wonderful kind people.
Looking forward to seeing the whole family Spring 2014.
There is an art of knowing when, Never try to guess. Toast until it smokes and then twenty seconds less – Piet Hein