A Moment of Panic (chapter 25, One Person's Journey)
We experienced a moment of panic in the early hours of a summer morning in 2012. We had been having beautiful summer weather and were for that reason sleeping with the windows open. But a thunder storm came up in the dawn hours and the rain splattering loudly on the window woke us simultaneously. As I moved from sleepiness to wakefulness, my sense of smell registered something unfamiliar.
“It smells wrong” I said, surprised - but still not wide awake.
Joe jumped up and looked out of the window.
“There´s a fire!” he called urgently and I sprang out of my bed to see what he was seeing.
The profuse bellowing clouds of smoke and threatening glow of flames on the floor beneath us is an image that is ingrained on my memory. With my heart beating fast I ran downstairs grabbing the phone to ring our downstairs neighbours. Cursing the time I needed to find his number, ring and for him to answer and acutely aware that there was an emergency and no time to lose, I ran down the stairs without anything on (but uncaring) and rang the door-bell of the neighbours in alarm. The dog woke up and sent off a torrid of barks and at last my neighbour answered the phone.
“You´re on fire” I said urgently.
“Where?” he answered, wide awake.
“At the back of your house!”
He slammed the phone down and I went back upstairs, shaken. Looking out of the window we could see how they were quelled and the smoke gradually dispersed. A few minutes later he rang again, humble and grateful. He explained that they had omitted to extinguish a garden candle on a shelf before going to bed that night and it had smouldered on and at one point the house wall had caught fire. A few more minutes and the wooden roof of the house would have caught fire. Relieved that nothing worse had happened, but aware of how it could have developed if the rain had not come at 5am to wake us up, I made my-self a glass of the rescue remedy to calm down.
Later that morning we were invited to view the scene. A whole wall was blackened with soot and fire damage. Again we re-iterated the steps that had led to discovery and extinguishing of the fire. Exchanging experiences and talking in detail was the way to get over the shock. Having never had experience of fire, I was reminded how life threatening this element is. Everyone was grateful that no great harm had been done and a subtle bonding took place because we had reacted so swiftly.