Where there’s fire, there’s smoke (3)

First view of kitchen, 2:30 a.m.

After watching our son be airlifted to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for more tests , we slowly make our way through a deserted central Austin out to the northern suburbs to see what has become of my house. It is now 2:30 a.m. My neighbor left the hospital an hour or so ago. He had been able to coax one of my two dogs into his house, but Rosie, my timid one, was still somewhere in my yard. The fire crews left an hour ago, and from the outside, my house looks just like all the other houses on the street – dark and still. The only difference – the ‘For Sale’ sign in the front yard – just waiting for opening day, now just a little more than 24 hours away.

Entering a burned house is a shock to the senses, even with visibility at a minimum. The dripping water, the visible devastation, but the worst is the strong, sharp smell of the fire hanging in the air. This burning smell will last for weeks. Whenever I return to the house, even if for a few minutes, the smell clings to my clothes, skin, and hair. My ex hovers near the front door while I walk through the hallways, the floors still covered with several inches of  water. The kitchen is totally destroyed. Huge tin-foil tubes are hanging from the ceiling, the windows broken through for ventilation, and every single upper cabinet is missing. Broken crockery is everywhere. Even in the dark I can see the soot-covered walls. The smoke had traveled up the cathedral ceilings of my living room to invade the rest of the house. As I walk toward the back door, I hear a whimper. Rosie has heard the car and knows I am home. She’s waiting on the patio, looking scared and confused. Together we go next door, where my neighbors have offered my dogs and me a place to stay until I figure out the next step.

We plan to head out for San Antonio in the morning. Or rather, in a few hours. At 3:30 the helicopter crew calls to say Jacob has safely arrived at BAMC. At 4:30 a nurse calls to get permission for any and all tests they might need to conduct. I drowsily give my permission to do any and everything necessary to ensure my son’s health. At 8 I call the insurance to give them the barebones information. At 9 the doctors have finished their rounds and tell us we can come see our son; they’ve already removed the ventilator and tube from his windpipe. With this encouraging news, we begin the 90 minute drive to BAMC’s burn unit. I can’t concentrate enough to read, so I e-mail my friends, family, and realtors and update my facebook status from news of the fire to news that my son, according to the medical staff, is going to be fine and will be coming out of sedation by the time we arrive.

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This entry was posted in Austin, Dogs, Family, Family Crisis, Hospital, House, House Fire, House Sale, My Life, Personal Memoir, Rescue Dogs, Son, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Where there’s fire, there’s smoke (3)

  1. I have been through a fire myself and its extremely hard dealing with aftermath. I fortunately did not have to go into the building afterwards to try to salvage anything because it was condemned. I think it would be harder if I had to go and see everything.

  2. shoshwrites says:

    I think it’s hard either way. I didn’t see the actual fire since my son was at the house alone and I was returning from a business trip. I do, unfortunately, have to do with the ramifications of the fire almost every day, and it’s overwhelming. That’s one reason I decided to journal-blog about it. I’ll definitely take a look at your blog, too.

  3. Thank you for your response. We should bounce some ideas off each other because I am interested in similar topics. For example, what have you learned from this process and do you know of resources that are available for other people that have been through fires? Before I created my blog I had a hard time finding other blogs with similar content, which was extremely frustrating. Since then I have found other websites and blogs that share common goals.

    Let me know if you would like a listing of other similar blogs. Keep in touch.

    • shoshwrites says:

      Sure, that sounds great. My fire was less than 7 weeks ago, so it’s still rather raw and overwhelming. “Lessons” will come, I’m sure, but right now I’m still drowning in the countless tasks related to the fire and worrying about my son. Other blogs would be good – besides the common interest, we can learn from each other and perhaps increase readership. I haven’t had much time to explore the blog world yet. I only thought of doing this about 2 weeks ago, so I’m still learning.

  4. check out this link http://www.lifeafterthefire.com/2011/06/fire-survivor-blogs.html. This is another blog about a family that lost everything in a fire. There is also links to other blogs. I agree with the comment that this is a good outlet for expressing our feelings.

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