My neighbors lose their home

I heard the man’s voice over my iTunes this morning. “Aiirgh!” I couldn’t make out the words, but he sounded agitated. “Aiiuurgh!” he screamed again. I thought one of the college kids had locked himself out.

It was bitterly cold outside, so I went to the back porch to ask whether he needed help. But then the words came through distinctly: “FIRE! HELP!! FIRE!”

“Is anyone in there?” I heard the man yelling. “Can you hear me? Is anyone inside?” I followed his voice down the alley and around the corner.

“Did you already call it in?” I asked as I approached. “Are you OK?” He nodded. As if on cue, the sirens wailed toward us. The good Samaritan and I stood in front of the house, waving the fire trucks in.

What can I say about firefighters? They’re a breed apart. Within moments of arriving they’d surveyed the situation, come up with a plan, and then they were inside.

I could see their flashlights through the darkened windows as they criss-crossed each room, searching for victims. And I could sense the tension in the firefighters who were waiting outside.

But the search came up empty: The house had been unoccupied. (I later found out from my neighbors Char and Woody that the owners are on vacation in Florida. They’d just finished remodeling the house last summer …)

It took only an hour for the firefighters to knock down the fire. I was in awe of their teamwork, by how methodically and efficiently they all went about their work. By sunrise, they were already boarding the place up.

There’s something about seeing a house fire that puts things in perspective.

I whined last year when I heard that my property taxes were going up—again. But this morning I realized that $1,700 is a small price to pay for a bunch of guys who are willing to wake up in the middle of the night to drive across town, walk into a burning house, rescue whoever is inside, put out the fire, clean up the mess, and then board the place up.

Thank you, Minneapolis Fire Department—and firefighters everywhere.

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