Today is Ellen's first birthday, but in light of current events I thought I would blog about what happened this morning.
We got up and were having breakfast at about 4:15 AM when we saw a firetruck go by. Dear Husband runs to the window to see where it is going. It stopped at our neighbor's house; the mule breeder. Dear Husband saw sparks and ran to get his coveralls on (it was well below freezing outside) I ran to the window to see. DH said maybe it was just a shed; but not from what I was seeing; whatever it was just took off. In the two or three minutes it took for DH to get his coveralls and boots on and go out to the yard he then just turned around and came back in and said it was the house and it was hopeless.
But he got the truck and went up there anyway; neighbor's house is maybe an eighth of a mile from us on the opposite side of the road, not far at all, with a bunch of trees between us. I went out and stood there with tears freezing on my face and watched the whole place go up in flames, heard the walls fall, saw the huge sullenly glowing column of smoke overshadow the whole thing like some hideous spector. At that point I didn't know if neighbor was dead or alive, so I just stood there and prayed. The whole house was gone in less than an hour; maybe just 45 minutes. They had the milk tankers bringing water for most of the morning though, to keep the sparks and embers under control. It's all just a pile of wet charcoal now with the chimney standing sentinel over the wreckage.
DH came back in 1/2 hour or so; yes, neighbor was alive and well. Had managed to crawl out the upstairs window and get down from there. This was a nice 3 bedroom, split level house; he had crawled down to the lowest level roof and was only about 5 feet from the ground there. He had saved their 3 bulldogs, but the little brown mutt that followed him so faithfully where-ever he went, for some reason, she ran into the open door of the burning house and was lost. He had a wood furnace in the basement and thinks that was the culprit.
Neighbor's wife was out of state visiting their daughter and he was going to go back up there and get her this morning early, so he had a couple of bags of clothes packed and ready to go in his car.
It is hard to describe without going on for pages what it was all like and how badly this affects them. For the past 5 years or so they have been struggling. They are in their 50s (I believe, he might be older) and awhile back they found a tumor in her brain. This caused major financial strains and they have just barely kept the wolf from the door, as it were, since then. Just this past summer she had surgery and is on anti-seizure meds. There was about $4,000 worth in the house; up in smoke. Someone said the Red Cross has a program they can go to that will help replace the meds. They do have insurance and that will help.
Already support has poured in for them; our church always has a "burned-out" fund that we donate to folks in the community who go through this, and neighbors, friends and strangers have been going back and forth offering what they can and helping as they can. Our neighborhood has had quite the traffic today; supporters and others just driving by to sow "gawk seeds" as my husband says.
And that is how Ellen's first birthday began. I will blog about the good stuff tomorrow, or when I get the heart to do so.
It is sobering to realize how tenuous our hold on our security is; how quickly it can be destroyed.