21 June 2012


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.


  1. What horror! Sorry to hear about the neighborhood fire and glad you safe.

  2. damn... this sucks. I love that area and those old homes.

  3. Are you in the neighborhood?

  4. Living in a similar neighborhood Paul I understand and share those same concerns. I feel terrible for your neighbor but glad he is alive and amazed the neighbors houses were safe. If anyone is looking for a great housewarming gift - fire extinguishers are perfect!

  5. So sorry to hear ANY stories about fire. Glad you are safe. Sorry about your neighbor's losses. Your advice is well taken and I'll be getting a fire extinguisher for my NEW kitchen. That's one new appliance I forgot about and should be regarded as equally important. Though I hope I'll never get to use it!

  6. I hope so too Pam, but it's better to be safe than sorry!

  7. So glad you are safe! Fires freak me out and I have an evacuation plan/meeting spot/alarms and drills to prove it!!!

  8. My family fell victim to a fire when I was only 5 years old and we lost everything but we were lucky to have lived. As beastly as it may sound, sometimes I think falling victim to a robbery is a lesser evil than falling victim to fire. At least, when you get robbed not everything is taken from you.

    By the by, I am glad that you are safe and so is your neighbour.

  9. Fire can be so destructive and final. One of my most horrific child hood memories is hearing and watching a number of race horses perish in a stable fire. Though I was only about eight years old at that time, the experience of helplessness was very overwhelming as the fire was so out of control not one could be saved.

    Your neighbour was indeed fortunate to have survived. -Brenda-

  10. It's incredible how quickly a wooden structure erupts in a major fire. It's put the fear of God into all of us since it happened.

    1. It is incredible Paul.

      My sympathy goes out to all the people and wildlife in the states of Utah, S/E Montana, Wyoming and Colorado who have recently lost their homes to fire. Thankfully for all concerned the count of human fatalities has been low.


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