February 12, 2008

grap a cup of something and settle in. this is going to be a LONG one....

I grumbled a little and rolled over.

I'm dreaming. My dream woke me up.

I snuggled down into my bed and swished my face back into my pillow and sighed hoping that I was only partly awake and that I would quickly fall back asleep.

Then again, a noise outside. Nothing shocking or loud, just weird. Out of the ordinary.

I grumbled again and rolled over to my other side, fluffed my pillow again.

My eyes slightly opened, saw nothing and closed again sleepily.

It's all in my head. My two roommates were still sleeping soundly.

I opened my eyes one more time and glanced at my clock.

Of course, for the last week, I had been waking up at 4am to go to the bathroom.

The clock glowed red 4:00am.

Right before I shut my eyes, I heard something that made my stomach drop. A noise that I've heard quite a few times before. Then, it was followed by a couple of bright flashes of light.

No, please not that. Not again. Not at 4am.

I closed my eyes again and hoped and prayed that it was just a dream.

I sure didn't want to get out of my nice warm bed on a 15 degree night like it was. (ps...the cottage never gets warm on nights like that. Stepping out of bed is like stepping onto a ice rink.)

It will go away. It's not what you think.

That weird low rumbling noise again....

Okay, that was it. I couldn't imagine it away anymore. I threw back the covers and shuddered as I stepped onto the ice patch/carpet.

I peeked out of my blinds in my bedroom window. Gulp...it's exactly what I feared....I closed my eyes for a second...

It's not there. You're dreaming.

Open eyes....nope. There it was right in front of me. A police car with lights swirling in blues and reds sitting in my neighbors driveway.

Quick, look in the other direction. That's not what's making the noise. You KNOW what that noise is.

I turned and looked to the right. There blocking the dirt road that led past my house and down to the beach was a LARGE, brightly lit, FIRE ENGINE. That's right.

Quick back-story...for those of you who have never lived at camp (those of you that read this and have lived here will know exactly what that sight and sound does to your heart). Our camp is OLD. Our oldest building is about 110 years old. The second oldest building is a HUGE lodge that was built in the 40's. Our biggest fear in life is that The Lodge will one day catch fire and burn in about 30 seconds flat. We call it a match box/tinder box/fire trap. Not that it's dangerous, just that it is VERY old. It's entirely wooden. Little insulation. That type of thing. One little flame would finish it in mere minutes.
The other part of it is that we have LOTS of fire systems at camp. You have to to be up to code with the various government agencies in our area. Kids have to be safe! Anyway, with all these systems comes the inevitable false alarms. And let's just say, we've had more than one. Many a time, the fire engines have rolled up our dirt roads when nothing is wrong, but the alarm goes off. While it's wonderful that it's that good of a system, it can drive you crazy. We've had to turn them away several times in the middle of the night because of a false alarm.
So keep this in mind as you read "a LARGE, brightly lit, FIRE ENGINE."

Back to 4:00am.....

My fingers slipped off the blinds and I ran as quickly and quietly (roommates still sleeping in next room) to look out another window. Living room....window facing The Lodge....wait....it was still dark on that side of the room. I got as close to the glass as I could. No bright lights. The Lodge was dark still. But I could only see half of it. The camp garage blocked the other half. I ran from that window into the kitchen barely noticing the icy floor didn't have the protective carpet shield. I leaned over the sink to see as much as I could.

The fire truck was still there. Blocking the road.

That's it. Something weird is going on....then I gasped.

My eyes had glanced upwards and I gasped because I saw smoke. HUGE billows of white smoke. Billows upon billows blowing in the wind.


My mind screamed over and over.

I ran, even quicker back around the corner to my room and pulled on whatever heavy layered pieces of clothes I could find plus and coat and hat and gloves.

I grabbed my boots out of the closet and ran to the door, unlocked it and burst outside as quickly (and still quietly) as I could.

I ran down the stairs and fast-walked out of my little gate, past the gym that sits next to my house.

When I rounded the corner of the building, I literally stopped and gasped in a huge intake of icy air. I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds.

There in front of me were about 10 fire trucks/tanker trucks, at least 3 police cars and a swirling mix of lights and people running around.

To my right, before my very sleepy, but now 100% awake eyes was a very large 2 story house with a large front porch COMPLETELY engulfed in smoke and flames. A ladder truck had it's bucket extended as high as it would go over top of the 2nd story (which was about 50% gone at this point) spraying gallons upon gallons of icy water. Fire fighters were running around talking loudly on walkie-talkies.

I stood there for a couple minutes rooted to my spot before I realized that it was truly happening before me. Then my mind sprang into action. Not really logical action, but at least it was working again.

Boys....I have to find The Boys...surely they know what's going on....(I call all the guys at camp "The Boys/The Guys" regardless of age or whether they are married or not)

I saw lights on in their houses, which face the inferno, so I knew they must be around somewhere. Doing what should be done.

My mind switched to:

roommates, still sleeping. No idea what's going on. Wake them now. Need someone else out here with me to find boys.

So back to my house I ran, up the porch stairs i to the house panting as I entered their dark room.

Hey guys....(huh?! what?)...um, the neighbors house is on fire and there are about 20 fire trucks here and there is smoke everywhere and do you want to come outside with me? I don't know where the boys are.

That, of course, got a sit-bolt-upright-in-bed (as much as you can with bunkbeds at least) WHAT?!!

I repeated my 1 sentace tale.

We're coming.

The three of us clomp outside to the field to stand there again, dumbfounded.

Finally, we see one of The Boys.

And then the true tale is told....

Apparently (and this is from what has been gathered from several sources aka "The Guys" and their whole crazy adventure last night), about 3:15 two of the guys, who live in adjoining townhouse with their lovely wives, heard strange popping sounds. One of them looked outside to see a bright orange glow. He, then, ran outside to see exactly where it was coming from and saw the house engulfed in enormous flames, to which put him in panic mode as his loving wife ran outside shoving warm clothes at him and a cell phone to call 911. When he called, the other Guy was already on the phone (in his adjoining house) with 911 telling them the same story. The fire engines came a couple minutes later, but by then the house was pretty much a lost cause. The firefighters were simply trying to keep the fire from spreading to another building. Lots of the rest of the staff had been up and around and had gone back inside (ah, warmth) by the time us girls came over.

At publication time (or while I'm sitting here typing this) it appears that the fire was arson. It was most likely started by the punk kids that live in our neighborhood and have been reeking havoc for the last few months. We've already had problems with them breaking into our buildings and stealing stuff. It seems that they broke into the house and the fire started after that. The police found TVs on the beach outside of the house. We don't know if they started the fire or if they knocked something over and it was accidental, but either/or, they started it (again, as of press time). The house is (was) a beautiful summer home that had been in our neighbor's family since the 40's. They had re-done their entire front wall/pier after a hurricane had demolished it in 2003. Thankfully, it is only used in the summer and no one was home when all this happened.

I went back to bed after about 20 minutes when I realized that there was nothing I could do and it was freakin' freezing outside and I couldn't feel my face anymore. I tried to go back to sleep, but my mind wouldn't turn off. What if it had been The Lodge?! What if we had lost all our data bases (The Lodge houses our offices as well as kitchen, dining hall, chapel and 30 rooms upstairs). That made me have a mini panic attack. When I finally fell asleep an hour and a half later, I dreamed that the fire jumped over to The Lodge and it was now burning to the ground.

Now this only takes us to about 6am this morning. This is only the beginning of the adventure that the day turned out to be. But, I'm exhausted and I'm sure you are all tired of reading this LONG epic. I will close for tonight, but there is much more to come.

So until then....to be continued...

(Click photo to see bigger)


Audrey said...

Holy Cow!!! What a dramatic night! I'm glad that you and your friends were safe and that no fire fighters got hurt. As you know my hubby is an Asst. Chief of our fire dept. and fires like that are so dangerous! I hope they catch those punks!

Anonymous said...

Did you see the pic that I posted on my blog? Not the best quality, but you get the idea.