Last night, after J had eventually fallen asleep (still screaming “I’m NOT tired”), I went up to bed myself, and on the way, noticing the boxes, books and computer hardware strewn up the stairs in my attempt to begin a sort of office area in my bedroom, I thought, “Oh I’d better move those, it could be dangerous if there’s an emergency”. But whats that thought which always comes after the “what if theres an emergency”? “Oh, but there wont be, I will just leave them for now”.
Just over an hour later, I was woken by the continuous ringing of my very loud doorbell, and as I dragged myself out of bed, I was too tired to think that it would be anything serious, I was just annoyed. “Probably some drunken good-for-nothings having a bit of “fun” I thought, and went to my bedroom window. I got the shock of my life, but I was right about drunken good-for-nothings. My garden gate was engulfed in flames.
You know that age old question, “What would you rescue from your house if it was on fire?” The truth is, there really is not enough time to think. My house was not on fire, my house was not particularly in any great danger of being on fire, since between it and the fire was a lot of brick wall, but after the shock, a million things were running through my mind. I managed to put on a dressing gown and scoop my son up who had also been woken by the noise.
I ‘phoned the fire brigade, who were already on their way after being informed by a more wide awake neighbour. The I ‘phoned my mum, because, well, although we werent in any immediate danger, I just needed someone I knew to be there. She arrived before the fire brigade, at which point I was realising just how trapped I was. That gate is the only way out of the property, if I had needed to get out, I would have needed to be rescued, I would not have been able to get myself and my son out safely.
I sat in a deck chair on our rooftop terrace, clutching my son to me, more for my comfort than his, watching the sky high flames. J was not particularly phased, he was aware that something was not right, “That’s a big fire, Mummy” but not frightened, and when the fire engine turned up, he wasnt interested in watching, only requesting to go back to sleep once the doorbell had been doused in water and finished its constant ringing.
I was now able to go down to see my Mum and thank the firemen. The heat coming from the brick wall was just about bearable. The industrial bin belonging to the cafe had been set alight and the flames had quickly spread to the gate and the roof of the outbuildings next door. The green plastic bin had completely burned to the ground, only a tell-tale wheel or two remaining, and the back gate, well, we would be needing a whole new one. Had I had my wits about me a bit more, I probably would have taken a picture or two, or a video. I sort of wish I had, just to remind myself in the future how bad it can be and how fast it can spread. But this was the scene the next morning:
Last night, I lost a little of my faith that everything will be ok, I feel a little less safe in my own home. I thought about what would have happened had it been a lot worse. What if I lost J? What if he lost me? All those times I think “I should move those boxes from the stairs” or “I probably shouldn’t block that door” or “I can leave it ’till tomorrow to change the smoke alarm battery” I will now not think “It won’t happen to me” I will think “It almost did happen to me, and I might not be so lucky next time”. J was fast asleep within 5 minutes of it being over. Needless to say, I slept little for the rest of the night.