We too experienced a fire in town Christmas night. MrM and I were enjoying quiet peace along with the last of the tartufos we’d made for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner (courtesy of a tartufo mention here at Levity by Trooper York several years ago–only with peppermint in place of the chocolate called for ) when a call came in from SonM. He said there was a fire underway in town at a manufacturing facility located a half a block down the hill from him. He’d left our house to go to the 150 year old wood frame building he’s in the process of restoring in town, to fill the Christmas bowl for the cat who keeps the place mouse-free, when he noticed a flickering of light outside the window. After realizing the flickering was actually flames of fire on the roof of a building on the street below him, he called 911 to learn the alert had just come in and help was on the way. By the time the fire trucks and volunteer firefighters arrived, the entire roof was ablaze, lighting up the night sky with flames high enough to be seen from a mile away. It took six hours and use of another town’s ladder truck to finally bring it under control and put it out. Though the damage was severe, they’d thankfully managed to keep it contained to the one building and stopped it from spreading to any of the surrounding structures.
Two weeks prior to that (just after the tornadoes had torn through KY) another major fire on the outskirts of our small town had taken out a large farm barn. Both fires required firefighters and equipment from nearby towns and/counties (with multiple pumpers for the barn traveling back and forth to the city hydrants to refill)), along with numerous volunteers, and hours of time and effort to finally quench the flames. Both fires, though small compared to the national disasters wrought by twisting winds and roaring fires that took place in KY and CO, left the people who owned and worked at those facilities with unexpected loss and devastation to handle. Both required police presence to corral and handle the crowds of onlookers on foot and in cars who’d gathered to watch and managed to either clogged up the roads or park in the way of incoming equipment.
While the curiosity and the draw of something so unusual and life affecting is easy to understand (with myself as part of the crowd that gathered), the cluelessness that also showed up on the part of some of the lookers whose attention was diverted from their driving and apparently disconnected from the reality of more pressing needs on the part of others was something to behold. In the overall, however, I was once again reminded of how frail, needy, self centered, and single focused humans can be, as well as how determined, strong, courageous, loyal, giving, and self-sacrificing they can also be Most of the firefighters I saw appeared to be men, attending to difficult tasks that required endurance, strength, fortitude and dogged commitment, working together as a team to bring two devastating and relentless fires under control. Unfortunately, there was a third fire yet to come. Somehow, even though the one that started Christmas night was finally and thoroughly drenched and quenched in the wee hours of the morning of the 26th, with service crews working there all that day, it somehow managed to come roaring back to life again that night. Same place, same time, with flames once again shooting through the roof and the whole scene a redo of what had taken place the night before. As real and surreal as it all was, what stood out most was hard work required and delivered by those committed to the task of putting out the fire and bringing things back under control. At that point, pronouns and politics were not the main issue: safety, survival and working together were what mattered most.
It’s my sense what we saw unfold in our small community, and what takes place elsewhere when even greater damage and devastation happens, is what will eventually come through for the people of this country when push finally comes to shove, and the unexpected fire that’s been building finally breaks out. Despite the cluelessness and self centeredness that inevitably shows up in the face of disaster, there will also be the strength and fortitude of those committed to doing their best to address reality when it breaks through and the lies and the spin are no longer enough to our protect our lives, loved ones and livelihoods in the streets and neighborhoods where we live and work.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
by Robert Frost