Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fire On The Mountain. Or, Frenchboro.

Give yourself two points if you picked up the Grateful Dead reference.

Photo used with permission. And nausea.

We had a fire on the island last night.

An empty house caught sometime after dinner (cause yet to be determined) and burned to the ground.

Nobody was hurt, and it wasn't a year round residence, so (we think/hope/pray) nothing was lost but memories. The owners haven't been out here much in the last 10 years due to health concerns, and hopefully didn't leave anything valuable or important behind.

Last night was pretty tumultuous, as you can imagine.
The fear we live with every day out here is that if fire breaks out, it will burn until it reaches water.
We have no means to control it.
The best we can do is contain it.

We all felt that fear last night.

Today, I spend the day with the Whatifs. Do you know them?
They are the cousins of the Oulda sisters...you know, Woulda, Shoulda, and Coulda.

The Whatifs are nasty.
They say things like:

Whatif the wind had been blowing, as it does 90% of the time out here?
Whatif, instead of losing one structure...we lost that whole side of the island?
Whatif we couldn't contain it, and the entire village burned?
Whatif it had been one of our year round residences?
Whatif one of our volunteers was injured while helping with the fire?
Whatif there were people in there?
Whatif there were freakin KIDS in there?

Every one of those freaks me out, but that last one makes my guts shake, and I pee just a little bit.

They're saying a lot more, the Whatifs. I'm drowning them out with very loud music.

I just know that I am very grateful nobody was injured.

Though I'm saddened by the loss of this house (it was one of the prettiest here), I'm thankful that it's just a house, which can be replaced.

I'm thankful it was just ONE structure we lost.

We are all very aware of just how bad it could have been.

I (as well as everyone on Frenchboro) am very grateful for the support of Swan's Island and Tremont Volunteer Fire Departments who assisted, and those who provided transportation to get them here so quickly. That would be Chris and Travis and the Captain/crew of the Henry Lee, who all get gold stars. With glitter.

And I'm grateful to the people who live here, who responded without a thought for themselves.
Who forgot they even had differences and squabbles, never mind 'put them aside'.
Who jumped into their boots at the word 'fire', and were out the door without even asking 'where'. (It's very small here. Easy to find fires.)

Arthur. Ann. Tim. Donald. Mikey. Becky. Ski. JayF. Doug. Michelle. Jessica. Paul. Zach. Jackie. Nate. Jay1. Debbie. Joseph. Davie. The Kid Staying In Coler's House Whose Name I Don't Know. (Sorry, Kid)

That's every person on the island, save the 5 Mothers home with their children and three older folks. I counted, while fielding phone calls and texts for over three hours, right up until my cell battery died. I'm still fielding calls today. I've had to charge my battery twice.
(You know why I counted, right? Same reason they count heads on the ferry, even on the very calm days. Again, I want to throw up at the thought.)

Those 20 people listed above are who responded to this fire within minutes of the first, 'Is it me, or is there smoke coming from Forsgren's house?' call.


And shortly thereafter, Chris and Josh were here. Travis, with guys from Tremont. The ferry crew, with Swan's Island's fire truck, ambulance, and crew.
I'm sorry I can't name who they all were- it was dark and very confusing, and not all are known to me.
Know that we are deeply grateful for every one of you, and the effort you put forth.

There are a lot of things we could have done better. But, there are a lot of things we could have done worse.

The fact that everybody who could, showed up...that's island life.
How 'bout you? Does your entire town show up to an empty house fire?

We may not be trained, or even effective. But, dammit, we're there!
I say, let's celebrate the fact that we're all here for another day!

Tonight, the drinks are on the house.

p.s. The calls came out around 9pm-ish. The streets roll up early in this part of the world, so we were all pretty well tucked in for the night.
I ask you...How many people were at that fire last night with boots on,
and no underwear???

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