Fire too close for comfort
May 20, 2009barriehol
At 5.50am this morning the phone rang. Not unusually I was already awake so answered within two rings so the lady was not disturbed.
Calls at that time in the morning are usually bearers of bad news, wrong numbers or hoax calls so I answered with some trepidation.
It was my Daughter. “don’t panic dad but..” were her opening few words so my heart skipped a beat anyway at what might follow.
Some mindless idiots had broken into and torched the son in laws works van – presumably as revenge because there was nothing worthwhile to steal – which was parked on the drive adjacent the house. This happened around 4.30am and the Fire and Rescue Service had already attended together with the local constabulary and the fire was now out.
I was down there within the hour and could not believe the scene. The van was totally destroyed – not a shred of anything that could burn was left – just a gutted shell with doors blown off, tyres melted to the ground and even the glass reduced to nothing. The van was not only adjacent the house but also adjacent their car and the heat had melted the grill, bumper and headlights. Both waste bins were melted forming grotesque shapes worthy of a Tate Modern exhibit. The uPVC kitchen window was partly melted and the glass cracked. If it was not for the neighbour who banged ceaselessly on the door to raise the alarm and thought to call the fire service, the fire could easily have entered the house within minutes.
They were also very lucky that the mains gas inlet valve which was literally 3 feet from the fire was housed in a steel cabinet. Everything around it was destroyed by the radiant heat.
Most of us only see news images of fires which tend to be viewed in a detached way without any real concept of the damage caused, the appalling mess that is left behind and the smell that permeates every corner of the house.
The Fire and Rescue Service did a great job and promised to return to fit a smoke alarm for free but I don’t hold out any hope that the Police will nab the perpetrators. Not everyone is fortunate to have a good neighbour who is alert at 4am in the morning, so whatever you do to safeguard your home or business from fire – don’t let it be nothing. Next time it could be you or yours.