No matter where you live, you have likely heard the wail of a siren and seen the familiar flashing lights of an emergency vehicle on its way to someone in trouble. I have often prayed for the person(s) who were waiting for help to arrive. Now when I hear those sirens, there is a much deeper personal appreciation for the people who serve our communities night and day and are always ready to respond to someone who needs assistance – often placing their own lives in harm’s way.
Yesterday it was two weeks since our home burned. It was my first personal encounter with local fire departments, and I cannot say enough about my deepened respect for these men who work with such precision and skill to preserve life and property.
|Some of the fire trucks that responded.|
Five different fire departments responded to our 9-1-1 call, and every member of every team moved in and tackled a different aspect of the emergency. We have them to thank for the preservation of our living and dining room furniture and other belongings that were in these rooms. While one group worked to put out the flames upstairs, another team laid down heavy salvage tarps over our living and dining rooms before the deluge of water flooded our apartment, and most of our things in those rooms were spared.
They entered the scene and immediately took control of the situation, while several wide-eyed residents ripped from their sleep and standing in the street barefoot and in our pajamas followed their instructions in moving to safety. The urgency in their voices was a clear indication of how serious the situation was as they tackled fire not only in the building itself but in the tops of some of the surrounding trees.
When the fire was extinguished, it was a group of about 15-20 firefighters who stood shoulder to shoulder guarding the property to make sure only the residents got through. It was they who went back into the burned and soaked building to retrieve whatever personal items we needed immediately (of what was still there) before they secured the premises.
I am thankful for the brave men and women of the Jonestown, Lago Vista, Cedar Park, Leander and Lake Travis fire departments for their responding so quickly and preventing this incident from becoming a much larger tragedy that could have spread to neighboring homes and businesses through the tinder box of trees that surrounded us.
I am thankful for the Travis County Fire Marshal who patiently talked with every one, getting all our statements and asking all the right questions to help him piece together what happened – and who continues to investigate to determine the cause of the fire.
I am thankful for the Lago Vista Police Department, in particular Officer Simons, who was so compassionate and helpful, keeping us fully informed on what was going on and what to expect and kept checking on us throughout the morning.
I am thankful to the EMS team that arrived so quickly (I’m still not even sure where they were from). They were among the first on the scene, checking on everyone and providing blankets to those who needed them.