I shall never again complain that my life is boring.
Two nights ago I went to bed at about 10.00pm, snuggled down with a hot water bottle and two cats. It was all peaceful and lovely. At 12.25pm I woke up and realised I could hear a noise. A loud noise that I couldn’t identify. Maybe it was machinery… there was banging and popping and a kind of hum. And it was LOUD – it sounded like it was in my house. Was my fridge about to explode?
I decided to get up and investigate. As I did so I realised that my house seemed awfully well-lit for the middle of the night. Still my brain hadn’t quite put it all together. I took two steps down the hallway and went through this thought process (in the space of a millisecond):
- That ‘hum’ is actually a roar
- Something is very wrong
- The light coming through the laundry window is orange
- The sound is coming from the kitchen
- I can smell smoke
- FUCK – my kitchen is on fire! (I was going to tone down the language, but I can assure you that is exactly what I really thought.)
BUT FEAR NOT! My kitchen was not on fire… I ran in there and did see fire, but it was outside the window. The house two doors from me was completely engulfed in flames. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen or heard. I ran for the phone to call 000, then realised the emergency services might be there already. I checked out another window and saw they were. Phew.
In that brief moment of relief I thought, “I’d better put on my jeans and some shoes, and get the cats into carriers, in case my house is in danger.” I had barely articulated the thought when I heard a loud bashing on my door. I ran to open it and was greeted by a member of the fire brigade. She yelled, “FIRE! You have to get out of your house right now. NOW!”
You know what? You DO NOT argue with that tone of voice. No time to get dressed, no time to get the cats (who had run to hide as soon as they heard the bashing on the door), no time to do anything but grab my mobile phone, shove my feet into ugg boots and get out. As I ran out of my door I was showered in burning embers – they were raining down on my house, the house next door and the house on the other side, furthest away from the fire. It was bloody terrifying.
I congregated across the road with my other neighbours and we watched the fire brigade fighting the fire. The shower of embers (the reason they decided to evacuate us) had happened when the roof collapsed but it dissipated fairly quickly, which meant our homes were probably safe. We were out there for about half an hour, watching the fire, choking on the smoke once it was out, and chatting with the police who suspected arson (this was later confirmed – they hit at least two houses and two cars in the area within a 2.5hour period).
Finally they let us back into our homes. “Great,” I thought, “I can get back to sleep.” Hmmm… yeah, as it turns out one doesn’t get to sleep again easily after that kind of adrenaline rush. Nor does one function well the next day – I spent most of the day thinking I could still smell the smoke, as well as feeling highly anxious, and worried that when I went to sleep I would again be woken by something terrible. Not a happy feeling, that’s for sure. But I practised some self-care when I got home, including watching mindless TV whilst cuddling my cats, and ended up sleeping well. I woke up briefly at 3.30am, confirmed that nothing was on fire, and happily went back to sleep.
I’m feeling fine today, and happy to be back into a quiet little boring routine. I’m not complaining – turns out there are worse things than boredom.