Fireworks Downtown

The dispatcher’s SOS pretty much ruined the moment. But when a business downtown is fully engulfed, and your fire department is called upon, you do what you’ve got to do. After all, this has the potential of turning into the “great fire of 2006″…

So my sister in law and I tried to explain to our 5 kids–whose game of catch had been interrupted by the toll of the fire signal coming across their daddy’s/uncle’s radioes. Not to mention it was finally getting dark enough to get the sparklers out, a fact we’d just pointed out to my 3 year old nephew.

We’d gotten together at my dh’s sister’s for swimming, grilled hot dogs/hamburgers & sides, and plans to 4-wheel up Mackadoo Hill and watch the fireworks exploding over Lake K. Then we’d come back and set off a few of our own.

Our area of this beautiful state is dotted with small towns, mere clusters of houses along a highway that one day claimed a post office if they were lucky…this is the case with dh’s/bil’s fire department. It’s ten miles from the bigger town that we claim on our address labels, the one where my grandpa, my dad, myself and my dh all went to high school. To give you an idea of how big this “bigger” town is, it has one stoplight, several bars and gas stations, one grocery store…and sits smack on the Sante Fe Trail. Thus, full of history. And downtown is beautifully historic, brick or stone-fronted store buildings–all connected. You get the idea. A fire in one of these is what caused the great alarm.

Hearing it unfold on the scanner was truly alarming. We sat on the native limestone patio/steps of my sil’s 100 year old house watching the kids catch fireflies and keeping our ears glued to every transmission. It sounded as though they were short on units (firefighters) and trucks. When they called for more backup from a bigger department over 30 miles away, I grabbed my oldest and she, sil and I had a mini-prayer meeting!  Then the evening news called!

We did take the kids up Mackadoo Hill…and they got to come home to sparklers, but the adventure of the night belonged to the men and women fighting fires in the heart of downtown. This morning, around 1:30 A.M. my husband and bil stumbled into the house, worn out, sooty and hollow-eyed. Dh and I gathered up our 3 sleeping children and headed for home.

A restaurant fire started the blaze. Dh’s department sent 9 guys and 3 trucks. Bil and Dh were first on the scene from our dept and were sent to the rear of the building to hook up to a hydrant and lay hose. Soon they donned their air-packs and headed into the smoke. Debris underfoot–falling ceiling–they worked with other firemen. Dh went through one airpack–they have a 30 minute use rating, got another and was at the top of a ladder hosing down the space between the ceiling and the roof when a valve on his pack got bumped and his air supply was cut off. For a sec he fiddled with it, to no avail. He hollered to the man he was with that he couldn’t breathe, but the guy didn’t get it. So hubby rushed down the ladder, practically pushing another firefighter out of the doorway. He ripped off his mask and inhaled a lungful of smoke-infested air. An EMS friend was right there and made him get out of his gear, even though dh kept protesting that it was just a faulty valve, he was fine. His pulse was 140! (normal is 60-80). As he’d almost gone through 2 air packs (1 too many!) they made him break for awhile. (If you call carrying fire fans around a block to the front of the building a break!).

Meanwhile, bil had the ceiling fall in on him. Turns out, another firefighter tore a board of sheetrock off the ceiling and dropped it on him. Thank God for helmets! His neck is jammed, but he’ll be okay.

They were able to stop the fire. And no one was injured. The restaurant is a total loss, except for the brick store front…and the two businesses on each side of it are pretty smoke damaged, but it could have been so much worse. No ideas as to what started it…arson is always suspect, but we can’t know for sure till the fire marshall investigates.

Meanwhile, dh sleeps. He’s my hero.

Happy 4th, hope yours will be exciting in all the good ways!

Mary

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