Life After Fire
THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE
November 15, 2001

It was close to 12:00 noon as I drove my white Blazer along the curb to park in front of our house in a quiet neighborhood. My attention was caught by a screaming noise that came from somewhere. That didn’t make any sense. For a moment, I was stunned.

All of a sudden I realized that the noise was from our smoke detectors and smoke is rising from behind our house. Something was very wrong. Running up to the front door, my heart is pounding. I opened the front door and it felt like eternity stopped. Everything in my house was engulfed in black. There was not one speck of light in the whole house. Total blackness!!! It was thick and threatening. Many things went through my mind: Was this real? Could I run through the house to save my birds? I couldn’t see a thing! The smell of smoke was overpowering. It was pitch black. I desperately searched for an answer. There was none. What is happening? I need to get my birds; they are in the back of the house. What can I do?

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I almost passed out and could not go deeper into the thick smoke.

Helplessly, I closed the door.

Running out to the front of the house, I saw two ladies walking along on the other side of the street. I shouted, “Call 911—my house is on fire!!!” They must have thought I was a lunatic the way they looked at me. I got no response.

When I didn’t get a reaction, I ran frantically to my neighbor’s house. Almost breaking the door in, I called, “Karen! KAREN! CALL 911, MY HOUSE IS ON FIRE!”

I was worried about my little friends in the house—my birds. I ran to the back of the house and realized that opening the doors and trying to save anyone was impossible. The doors were locked. My heart was breaking. I don’t remember hearing the fire alarms anymore. I was having a hard time picking up the dogs that luckily were in the back yard. My senses are starting to feel far away.

Grabbing the dogs, one after another, was a challenge. For some reason, I couldn’t pick up my small dogs. I realized, under this stress, I had to collect my wits and concentrate. Where do I put the dogs? Now what? The car was the only safe place for Bareli and BJ.

I felt strangely like I wasn’t there but on autopilot. I was backing up my car so that the fire trucks could pull up and hose my house. I remember thinking—THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING! MY HOUSE IS REALLY ON FIRE—THE FIRE TRUCKS ARE REALLY COMING—Oh my God! My tires kept driving up over the sidewalk. I had trouble steering around the corner (backwards). Finally, when I thought that I was out of the way enough, I just left the car. I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I got out and left the dogs safe in the car.

Almost instantly, three police cars came.

The policeman asked me what happened. I only knew that the plumber had been here just before Cyrus, our grandson, and I left. I really couldn’t think of a reason why we should have a fire.

I could not believe that this was happening to us. I was sitting across the street out of my mind with worry about my birds. I had left the kitchen window open because of the stink from the plumber’s soldering torch. I hoped that Dazi, our cat, would make it out.

I just couldn’t understand why the fire department was not here yet. When I asked, I was assured that the trucks were on their way. I wanted so badly to go and get my birds. Minutes seemed to turn to hours while I was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of our house.

It seemed to take the fire department a loooonnng time to get here.

Marg, a very nice police lady, asked me if I needed to call someone. I couldn’t think at all until she suggested I call my husband.

         DON!!!

She gave me her cell phone and I kept dialing Don’s number over and over and over. Finally, I got through to deliver the unbelievable news. “Don our house is on fire.”

He couldn’t understand what I was saying. “What?” “Our house is on fire!”

He asked me if he should finish the job he was working on. Frantically, I said, “You have to come home, NOW! Our house is BURNING!”

Finally, the firemen came. I asked them to please check on the birds first.

I remember sitting across the street in the grass, in a daze, out of body, not present, looking at all the people running around this smoking, burning house.
The fireman said, “All your birds are dead." ...

BORN OF FIRE covers our emotional and financial processes throughout the next four years. We hire an Attorney to help us deal with two insurance companies and the restoration service that worked for our insurance company, a costly ordeal.

My Journal also covers outside influences that we were facing at this time, the challenge of the WEST NILE VIRUS, the execution of A LIVING WILL and hard END OF LIFE DECISIONS.

We faced the sad tearing down of our burned home, the planning, designing and eventually the building of the new concrete House.

*How we managed to make ends meet and what to do, or not to do, in case such a situation would happen to you.

*How to be better prepared because you have, virtually, been there.

*How to make better decisions to improve your chances of a fair outcome.

*A perspective of what one might expect in a similar situation and how to be better prepared.


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Painter, Artist and now, Author of "Born Of Fire"
My Kitchen, as it was
Name: Irmelin Shively
Email: irmelin@comcast.net


ABOUT THE FIRE TO ORDER "BORN OF FIRE" SYNOPSIS
ABOUT MOUNTAIN STUDIOS
TO THE ART GALLERY PHOTOS from COLORADO-TEXAS-PANAMA
VIDEOS KIDS_PAGE
TO THE BOOK CRITIQUE