Flashbacks, in one word can bring you to your knees.
Over the years I have been affected by three house fires. The first was November 1994, 34 degrees and it was raining. The day and time are not as vivid in my mind anymore. This was the one was while I was still with the biological father and his family. The power had been out for several weeks at that point and no hopes of it returning. Someone was negligent in using their money to actually pay the bill. They tried a few other things to try to get the power on, needless to say they weren’t something the power company wanted them to do. They eventually got a hold of a generator. It was used maybe a week if my memory serves me correctly (ok that may be asking a lot).
That night his mother had been baby-sitting a couple of toddlers. So it was my son and about 3 other little ones downstairs with her. I remember one of his siblings coming up stairs and telling me (and I quote)
“Get the f*** up the house is on fire! “
Well I didn’t get up right then I just brushed that off because we DID NOT get along at all. This is the one person that could manipulate a situation that resulted in me getting beat physically, mentally, emotionally. Something bigger, not of this earth told me to get up. I did. I ran downstairs, went into the main room and looked to my left and saw this fierce orange glow from around the deteriorated door frame of the bathroom.
This house was built-in the beginning of the 1900’s so most of the rooms were unusable. I panicked and ran straight back upstairs to my room to try to grab anything I could. One huge problem was there was no light. I looked around in pitch darkness trying to feel my way through the room and find my purse, my glasses…got nothing. I realized what seemed like forever I needed to get out. I am glad I did because by that time it had spread to one of the front bedrooms on the front side of the house which was right by the staircase.
We grab all the kids and started out the door. No shoes, it was raining and we were running in the dark up a gravel/dirt path to the neighbors. We headed to the only neighbor, an elderly lady that lived in the house maybe a 1/4 of a mile up the path.
The kids bio ran past us and got to the lady’s home before we did. He started to bang repeatedly on her door, window, and side of the house to get her to wake up. He called her by her name and told her the house was on fire. She came to the door. We called 911. If not mistaken there were several fire departments that responded. I know the water truck ran out of water and had to hook up to the pond. One of the trucks got stuck in the mud. Finally the firemen told us that there was nothing else they could do.
Since that house was so old the wood caught on fire really fast. What the old folks would call it was ”lighter wood” At least that’s what I remember them calling it. I know the firemen finally busted out some of the windows to go ahead and accelerate the burn. I vividly remember the sounds and smells of the stuff in the house burning. The deep freezer and all its contents. We all stood there in disbelief as to what was happening. I called my mother and told her.
My step father drove her up the next day or so and she told me when they turned the curve on the path and headed towards the house she burst into tears. All you saw was the four standing brick chimneys. The rest of the house was in ashes down in the basement. Out back the ground had caved in and unearthed a tunnel. We thought since this was a plantation home even with the one slave house on the side of it this may be a slave tunnel. We never confirmed it with anyone but it just felt like it ”fit”. We were all lucky to get out of that house.
The second one.Not exactly sure of the date. I was a single mother at the time and it was just me and the kids. I had a habit of locking my deadbolt and door lock when the kids were smaller and on this day for some reason I didn’t remember to lock it. I went upstairs to take to a shower. THANK THE LORD I didn’t lock it. See we lived in a unit that had four separate houses/town homes. I was on one of the ends. The fire started in the opposite end house’s attic and took off like gas to a flame. One of my neighbors kids came in the house and took my kids and yelled to me that the house was on fire. I don’t remember how the heck I got out the shower, threw some clothes on, and managed to call my mother and step-father in record time. We all stood outside watching and waiting for the fire department to show up. They did. Since having gone through this before I was a little stressed at that point. One of the paramedics there tried to calm me down. I was hyperventilating. He asked if I needed to get into the ambulance. My mother had arrived at that point. She looked at me, then looked at him and said “NO” Then looked back at me, drew back her hand and smacked me. I gained myself really quick after that. The paramedic just walked away seeming to be laughing on the inside but showing professionalism and not showing on the outside.
The third was in 2007. We have moved into base housing and had been there maybe 2 months or so. I was watching my God son/nephew and we were both taking a nap. The extreme volume of the fire alarm woke us up. The fire didn’t start in our home it was the neighbor’s home. To this day we still question the report because they stated the hot pad fell, hit the lever for the toaster and held it down long enough to catch the hot pad on fire. But you see a charred line up the wall from the wall socket in the kitchen. Yet it still remained their fault. It was crazy.
The sprinkler system came on and no one knew where the shut off valve was. On top of that the main water shut off valve was buried under 2 feet of mud. At first they cut our water off thinking it was the shut off for the neighbor’s home. In their defense there were two boxes in my front yard so I could see why they thought it housed the neighbors. One of the boxes was pointless. They had to get a back hoe out there to dig out the line. They ended up having to cut off the main water to the entire street. The back hoe hit a main water line and because it was already in need of a repair or replacement the back hoe bucket that was all it took. They had to now replace the entire pipe.
I had not been able to deal with cooking on the grill and it took me some time to overcome the fear of it but the other night I was inside speaking to my husband turn the corner into the kitchen to look outside and see that actual flames were coming out of the grill, freaked me out! When someone goes through a traumatic experience and then has to endure these periodic flashbacks it’s hard for someone else to understand. My husband and I both got past it but for him it is just not something he will ever understand.
Originally posted 2014-04-15 18:59:26.