I wasn't sure which blog to write this in, but chose this one because it is part of my memories.
On Facebook, I've been giving a chronicle of the days since the fire. I'll add it here too.
At about 8:45 p.m. on January 23, 2017, I stepped out of the shower and into my jammies.
I had just had company all weekend--Sharyn Ogden and her kids--and was having more company on Wednesday--Carla and Todd Campbell. I needed to wash the sheets and towels.
I put a load in the washer and was about to tackle emptying the dishwasher and filling it up again, but the dog wanted to go out. I stopped to turn on my TV because there was a show coming on at 9:00 I wanted to watch. That's why I showered earlier than later. I smelled smoke and thought the neighbors were going all out with burning fires in their fireplaces on that cold night. The smoke smell filled up my living room.
When I let Tobey out, I heard my neighbor's smoke alarms and looked over and saw heavy grey smoke gushing out of Burt's house in the back. I immediately called 9-1-1. The lady on the phone told me not to hang up, but to get out of the house.
I put on my coat, slipped into my slippers, put the leash on the dog, and stepped out into my garage. I remember pushing the washing machine button off. I saw that the same smoke was billowing out of Burt's garage. There was Burt Christensen, 87, standing in his garage with a white handkerchief over his face, trying to bat away the smoke so he could go back inside. He was dressed in his pajamas and in his bare feet. He said, "I can't leave my house!" I told him the smoke was too heavy. You couldn't even see the garage or its contents, the smoke was so thick.
I had forgotten to turn my lights off inside, but the lady on the phone said not to go back in. Thank goodness I turned the washer off before I headed out into the garage.
At that point, I saw my neighbor across the street, Rich Pinnell, running over holding a hose in his hands. I wondered what he was doing. At that point, I think I was going into shock, but trying to function.
Burt was trying to go back in and I begged Rich to persuade Burt to come into my garage. I said, "He needs a coat and some shoes. Can you get him a coat and some shoes?" I shewed Rich back to his house. I'm sorry if I was brusk with him, but I was in all out panic mode.
I realized my hair was still wet. I was in my pajamas, too. I had my slippers on, but my feet were freezing and my head was freezing. I pulled up my hood. It was 19 degrees and snowing, more like falling ice and snow.
I yelled at the woman at 9-1-1, "Are they coming?" She assured me they were. The fire company is only about two blocks away. I asked her numerous times. I thought at least 15 minutes had passed, but maybe it was only five minutes. I asked her again, "Where are they?" She assured me again that they were coming and to stay on the phone.
At that time, I heard the sirens in the distance, so I told her. I couldn't hang up until they got there. A fire engine and an ambulance came down the street with sirens and lights blaring. Then there were numerous fire engines coming from both directions.
Rich came back with a lightweight jacket and a pair of work boots. I guess that's all he could find. Burt put on the jacket. The shoes didn't fit. I noticed my son Alex's sneakers in my garage. He wore them when he did yard work for me and just left them at my house. I told Rich to help Burt try them on. Thank goodness they fit!
Rich, Burt and I stood in my garage watching the firemen going in and coming out of Burt's house. They were wearing masks. I didn't feel like it was urgent. A smoke fire, I thought. I tried to call my kids, but their mailboxes were full and I couldn't leave a message. I texted them and still no answer.
My friend, Connie Bennett, called me but I couldn't talk to her. Too noisy. And I had really started to panic. Other neighbors came over while we were still standing in the garage. I can't remember who all came over. I mean, we stood in my garage with me still thinking "it's just a smoke fire," maybe a small kitchen fire, and the firemen will put out whatever fire might be there.
Text to Zannah and Nick: at 9:19 p.m.: There's a fire next door. Will you please come get the dog? He's freezing. Burt's house. I can't go in my house.
Text to Alex at 9:20 p.m.: Burt's house is on fire. I can't get hold of Z and N. I need them to get the dog. He's freezing. They won't let me in my house. Smoke.
I figured Tim was all the way down in Pleasant Grove, so I didn't text him.
Finally, I decided to take a picture of the fire engines and the smoke coming out of Burt's house. As a last resort, I posted it on Facebook, hoping my kids would see it. I asked for prayers too, I think, for whoever might be seeing the post.
|This is the picture I put on Facebook|
At 9:31 p.m., I called Alex and found out that roads out of the game were a parking lot. At least I got him and could tell him what was going on.
At 9:48 p.m., I had the wherewithal to text my boss and tell him my neighbor's house was on fire, I have an adjoining twin, and probably wouldn't be at work the next day. He didn't get the message until about 11:30, and understood and said he was happy to help with whatever he could.
After about an hour, maybe at 10:00, I saw all the firemen rushing out of Burt's house. They said the floor had caught on fire. They told us all to get out of the area, we were blocking things up for them. One of the firemen toted a hose into my garage and laid it on the floor with the nozzle right by the steps. I asked, "Is my house on fire?" He said, "No. This is just in case. We're encapsulating your house." I still don't know what that means.
One fireman asked if there was a fence in back separating our yards. I said yes. Then I saw a bunch of firefighters drag hoses down the side of my house and through my gate. I figured they were going to have to knock down that fence in the back; for what, I didn't know. I still wondered if my house was going to catch fire. I knew then that I was definitely in the throes of shock. Something happened to my brain and it all seemed like a dream. And I was so freezing cold.
Some firemen went into my house through the garage door and I saw all my lights on. I wondered if my smoke alarms were going off, but I don't think there was sufficient smoke at that time. I don't know. Maybe I just couldn't hear it. A fireman that seemed to be in charge told me I had to go across the street and get out of the way. He grabbed my arm and started escorting me.
He was going too fast. I told him I was handicapped and couldn't walk that fast. My driveway was icy at the bottom because it had just snowed about 13 inches over the weekend--the Ogdens had built snowmen and an igloo and shoveled my driveway several times. He took it a little slower, but not slow enough. I yelled at him, "I can't walk that fast!" I was in my slippers and slip-sliding all over. (Sorry, fireman.)
He got me over to Gary and Gerald's house directly across the street from mine, and I asked him if he would get my purse and my shoes that were by the couch. My ankle brace was with them. He went inside--I could see him. The door was open and the lights were still on! He came back with them and I put my shoes and brace on. My feet were ice cold. Gary and Gerald gave me a stadium chair to sit in and piled on blankets. Poor Tobey was shivering so bad. I had him under the blankets with me. He wouldn't stop shivering. I thought it was because he was cold. It was that, but he was scared too.
At 10:02 p.m., Alex called me and told me he couldn't get near my street. It was blocked both ways. But all four of my kids did get to me soon after. They just had to find a place to park. They were all at the Jazz game and came as soon as they could.
Once the kids got there, a reporter from Fox News came and asked for an interview. At first I thought he was from a newspaper. I told him as long as they didn't take any pictures. I had just washed my hair. I was in my pajamas. No makeup. Oi. Then I realized he was a television reporter. Lights! Camera! Action! Oi.
|Fifteen minutes of fame? Oi. Fox 13 News.|
At one point, I sat in the chair, freezing, under blankets, and watched the ensuing scene. Then I saw smoke coming out of MY attic vent. I asked, "Is MY house on fire too?" We all just watched. I told my kids, "Please pray REALLY hard. All of our family history is in my house."
And I watched. Smoke everywhere. Someone said it was coming through the attics. In my shock and denial, I realized I needed to pray. HARD!
I had a thought. The Savior said, "Ask and ye shall receive." I know about the Law of Attraction. And I also have the gift of faith. I decided to use a little synergy--prayer and faith. I prayed in all positive words, in faith. I prayed, "Heavenly Father, please let the fire stop at my house. I have faith that Thou can stop the fire. I KNOW that Thou can stop the fire. I'm asking Thee to keep my house safe from fire. I pray my house will be safe from fire. Please save my house."
After that, the action seemed to die down somewhat. I saw firemen going through my house. Someone came and told me Burt was in an ambulance getting warm and his son Justin came home from work--to find that all his belongings he had just moved in in the last three weeks, were under fire and smoke. I felt so bad for them.
I guess they got the fire under control somewhat because we were told that I could leave, but to come back in about an hour and a half and I could get into my house to get some things. It was probably about 10:45 at that time. I remember calculating that I should come back around midnight.
Zannah and Nick took me to their home. We told Tim he could go home. Alex followed to ZnN's soon after. He had stopped at Smith's to get me some comfort food (??). I guess he thought that would be a good thing to do for me. He's a very caring person. I did not feel the least bit hungry, though, and I don't think I ate much the next day either. Still in shock.
We hung around ZN's house until midnight, then headed back over. Alex went home.
I was so cold. My whole body was like ice. I know I was in shock, too.
Nick and I went in the house while Zannah stayed in the car with the dog. We walked through, but didn't go down in the basement. We were told there was a few inches of water down there and it would be dangerous. I went into my bedroom and grabbed my jeans and some underwear and stuffed them in a tote bag. Then I grabbed a suitcase and started putting clothes in it. (I saw my clothes for the next day of work already picked out and hanging in the closet. I always do it the night before.)
We grabbed the the dog's crate and a few toys for him (realized later they smelled like smoke). Took some dog food that had a tight lid. I was told not to take anything that was opened and not sealed tight. *sigh*
When I got outside, I realized everything smelled like smoke, so I didn't take the suitcase. I still took the tote bag with a few things in it--my jeans. I had grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste (I had to throw them away because of smoke particulates. Who knew?) *sigh*
I was told "cleaners" would come the next day and I could pick out rush 24-hour clothes for them to get to me.
I think I got my car out of the garage. I don't remember doing it. Rocky Mountain Power had already shut off my electric. Someone manually put the garage door down--I don't remember who--maybe Nick. And I don't remember driving back to Zannah's. But I guess I did. I gave someone my house key so they could set up a lock box to have the UDK (Utah Disaster Kleanup) come in the next morning.
After all was said and done, I think we got back to the house at 12:30. Zannah had made up the bed in their spare room when we were there earlier. I remember looking at my watch when I was going to bed (I was already in my pajamas!) and it read 12:42. I felt bad for the kids. They had to go to work the next day--that day, actually.
Tobey and I snuggled to get warm. I was still freezing. I was so cold. I hadn't grabbed my allergy medicine that helped me to sleep. I didn't have any sleeping pills. I couldn't fall asleep. I was awake all night. At about 5:00 a.m. someone texted me from the east coast. I was awake when it came in. After that, I fell asleep. I think I slept for about two hours. I was supposed to meet--I can't remember who it was--at 9:00 a.m. Someone from Midvale, maybe?