My neighbor's house burned the other night.
I live in a historic neighborhood. All of the homes here are at least 100 years old and all of them are wood-framed. Because this neighborhood was platted out in a time before such things as zoning, all of our houses sit very close to one another. The roof lines of two of my neighbors are separated by around three inches in fact.
We tend to be pretty paranoid when it comes to fire around here. All of us on this block have been particularly vigilant about fire safety because we know that if one house goes up, we'd lose the whole block.
Well, my neighbor's house burned the other night and mercifully, there was no wind blowing. The lack of wind and the fast response of the St. Pete Fire Department kept the fire contained. Had it been a windy night I'd be writing this from a Red Cross shelter.
Even so, the 20 minutes that the fire burned destroyed his home and left him with nothing but the clothes on his back.
He's a disagreeable guy. He's alienated all of us over the years but even so, my heart goes out to him.
I cannot imagine what it's like to lose everything in a fire. Despite his losses, he's fortunate to have made it out the back door before he lost his life to smoke inhalation. As it is, he and his dog made it to safety but his cat didn't.
Fire's not something that occurs to most people as a viable threat but it is. Do yourself a favor and guard yourself against it. Get at least two fire extinguishers. Keep one in your bedroom and one in your kitchen. Install and maintain smoke detectors. Put one outside of your bedroom and another one in your kitchen.
Think through an escape plan. If your house were on fire how would you make it out?
My neighbor was lucky, blessed even. He had no extinguishers or smoke alarms and that he survived that fire is something that borders on the miraculous.
Despite his suffering, this event has proved itself to be a cautionary tale to all of us on Seventh Avenue. It ought to be a cautionary tale to people everywhere. Fire extinguishers and smoke detectors will save your property and may very well save your life.