Last night was the most terrifying of my life. I awoke to my wife hitting me, screaming, “Fire!” My first image, upon waking, was flame, coming from floor, over our bedroom ceiling. We just moved into this house and, naturally, had some unpacked boxes. These were set on fire.
In my underwear, I ran to the bathroom, desperately seeking a bucket. I found nothing, except my 6 year old’s stepping stool from Ikea. Turn it upside down and you have about 2 inches of possible water space. This was my option at the time. As futile as this was, I was, naturally, desperate to douse the flames.
Meanwhile, my wife Kristina is grabbing flaming rubble and throwing it outside of our sliding door, which leads to the backyard. It is raining. Good for that.
Kristina collected our daughter and dog and made their way outside. We communicated by yelling to each other. “Are you OK?”, she would say. “Yea!”, I would respond.
The smoke suddenly grew from 1 foot at the ceiling to 4, in the time I was fighting the fire. I could not breathe. I ran out of the sliding door, catching some air and saw the garden hose. I ran to the faucet and turned it on and with watery hose in hand, ran back into the room and hosed that shit down.
I was not able to contain all of the fire, but created such a watery mess and had contained it to such a manageable state and, considering the volume of smoke, which now allowed for only a foot to a foot and a half of air space upon the floor, I knew it was time to leave.
I ran through our house to the front door, where I was happy to see my family and dog. I stood there in my underwear in the wintery rain, with my family in their pajamas, waiting for the distant sirens to arrive.
Kristina sustained 2nd degree burns while throwing a plastic storage tote out of the door. Burning plastic melted on her left hand fingers, facilitating an emergency room visit that lasted until 5:30am.
I am so utterly thankful for the fire department of Garland, TX. They were truly remarkable. They made our adrenaline rushed family feel at ease. They made us laugh, they secured our house, they found the source. The source of the fire, according to a master electrician that the fire captain brought in, an electrical outlet likely had a slow short. This short lead to a likely increase of heat over time, to the point that it seemed to spontaneously combust.
There is nothing quite like an experience that forces you to answer the question of, “Fight or Flight?”. There is nothing quite like the issue of: “The solution to this problem determines the wellbeing of my family.” Such issues have a way of quickening the senses and of bringing what is meaningful, what is real, into perspective. It is never lucky to have your house catch on fire. However, we thank the heavens and our lucky stars that we are alive today. I am so thankful that something, whatever it was, woke Kristina from her sleep. I was likely not going to wake. Our daughter’s bedroom was immediately above ours’. The flames were at the ceiling when she woke us.
Most victims in fire die from smoke inhalation, from asphyxiation. Whatever woke Kristina, whatever triggered her alarm bells from her evening slumber, I am thankful to that. Kristina saved our lives. Perhaps I played some measure in saving the house. Regardless, this experience has likely brought a greater closeness and bond to our little family. For our safe arrival at the hotel last night and our daughter’s seemingly undisturbed happiness, we are so thankful.
This was originally published by author Jim Hart on Facebook on Hart’s timeline.