Snow saved the trees this morning. Maybe a few houses too.
An early morning fire broke out today in a newly constructed home behind us, two doors away. Firefighters managed to quell the blaze before it spread to neighbouring homes. We are all safe. Sunshine now peeks through the empty shell remaining of what is perhaps somebody’s dream home.
Many of the emergency crew has left the area after shutting down traffic with several trucks—I lost count after nine; news reports have eighteen at the scene. From my perch here in my writing nook, I spy one lone firefighter high above the site, hosing it down yet.
There is little danger left, or so it appears. Winter has her charms after all. Maybe I’ll get a walk in today and catch something other than embers on my path. Fatigue should have set in long ago. I was up late (writing—what else?), and woke up, what seemed mere minutes later, by Lucy’s mad barking. We cursed a little (dogs and babies both learn to swear early). Peter looked up to see a red glow through the blinds.
We think we’ll be calm, hope to be cool, reason ruling our steps in events that demand immediate action. From where we watched, flames licked the treetops—would our backyard be stricken next by a spray of sparks? The smoke field alone was massive. Lucy, grateful now that her lumbering family was now fully alert, was at my heels. What will you do now?
Wake kid at home. Tell her to grab things—we could see trucks outside and crew knocking on doors.
Bring only the important stuff.
Remember the important stuff? You’re supposed to have distilled it all now after other difficult life lessons.
How fantastic to learn what we are made of: within minutes, my kid had parked photo albums on the curb outside. From her sister’s room, still full of childhood treasures for those home visits from university life, she grabbed the two most important items to stash alongside the albums.
We dumped it all in the car trunk and waited it out, eyes on the dangerous orange, too close for any attempt at sleep.
Old newsroom instincts kick in, or perhaps it was the news trucks pulling up and chopper overhead. Treacherous as it was (fire hose water turns to icy sidewalks in seconds), I managed to walk over to the scene of this immense heat. Neighbours huddled on a driveway. Nobody had much to say—words in our heads would surely spell comfort in numbers. Firefighters were everywhere—these people are magnificent, I think, but is the fire not too much for them? Smoke, or was it the cold creeping in to my fingers, sent me home, back to the window. The others were now asleep, as were some of my neighbours peacefully snoozing, unaware of the drama unfolding. How I wished to be one of them, instead of breathing slowly in a moment produced by Motherhood: protect the nest.
Dawn emerged, and the fire subsided, smoky clouds still greeting the morning rush hour on nearby streets. Peter went off to work and I scrambled some eggs and took a tray up to the sleepy big kid the one who remembered to pack her sister’s old teddies. Put my coat back on and mustered up a brisk pace. By now, the street was an icy runway and still, these workers are at it-my neighbour caught some of their hard work in this recap.
In her sunny kitchen, we sipped coffee. She made a pot to serve 30 of these folks in the business of saving neighbourhoods; it was okay to sneak a wee cup of the stuff. Cups of nourishment: I love my neighbours.
I love my house.
Today, I also love the men and women of the Toronto Fire department who saved us both. There’s little I can do but feel gratitude…again.
And maybe deliver a hit of Nutella. Sugar works on cold muscles, doesn’t it?
I’ll send the recipe to my buzz sheet readers soon enough. Right now, sleep beckons after a terrifying morning.
A fire plan is next. Do you have one?
My daughter remembered to cart out her prom dress too.
What is in your if I had to flee basket?
* Fire photo courtesy of Janet Davis.
So thankful no one was hurt and happy you didn’t have to flee! After the obvious… saving my love JP, kids & pets… I’d grab my purse (wallet + phone), laptop, passports, and if I had time and wits… old photos and my Grandma’s vintage & my best jewellery. But you are right, everyone should have a fire plan. When life gives you a raw deal, sometimes you don’t have time to think!
That puppy. Yes yes yes! Passports were not on my list last night: a must!!
Scary stuff! So glad you’re ok. Nice reporting job on your blog. Always the reporter, our Anne!
What would I take? Good question. After confirming that all loved ones are out safely, Photo albums and scrapbooks, for sure, but how to choose between 40 albums? safe contents, silverware, wallet with all ID and cards, car keys, harddrive…yikes, this is really getting dangerously time-consuming!
For those of you who have never posted before, I just discovered through Anne that you don’t need a website, which you seemed to need when her blog first started ( I may be wrong on that.) Just put in your name, email and message, and press Post Comment. Et voila. Success.
Thanks for spreading the message!
Good question Anne! Better still, what really do you need if you had to leave it all behind at any time in your life. Not much. One box. Some family pictures/ videos – ideally on a cd or hard drive, wallet, after that not sure. Good idea to have a plan.
If anyone knows, it’s Off the Grid Johnny! Get those pics organized. And yes, we are having family meeting soon to draw up a proper plan.
When I was small we were part of the mass evacuation in Mississauga when a train derailed on Mavis carrying Chlorine ..
The police drove slowly around in the old yellow cop cars and on speaker said Evacuate immediately. We left with only the clothes we were wearing and our dog.. Dads insulin. Moms big purse. That’s all
We stayed at my Polish grandmothers apt in High Park, I think for a week. Our dog ate Babcias perogies and soup as we didn’t grab dog food.
It’s like the refugees from Syria- leaving with the bare essentials.
I would do the same – grab the kids- then cat and dog., Any medications for kids/ purse. Hope the car had gas- (a good reason to refill tank before coming home.)
Help neighbours outs that were old/ wheelchair bound..
So glad you are safe. I was thinking how strange it was that the snow stayed perfectly on the trees for 2 days.. As it usually melts after one…The snow did save a lot of the fire from spreading.
First responders are there for fires, for an ill parent to be brought to emergency – We are so fortunate to have them and yes the sugar hit will help.
I will make a batch of something yummy ( likely a no-fail pkg mix) and bring to our local fire dept- and say it’s ” From Anne” xo
I love that your dog ate real food. And I never once thought of medication-another thing to add to our list.
Yes, Emily had that thought too-it made her think immediately of the Syrians who had to flee, of everyone anywhere who leave with little but a scrap or momento. We all have too much stuff. Says the packrat.
Thanks for paying it forward pal.
It is unfortunate that it takes someone else’s nightmare to force us to think about what we would do in such an event. Almost everything is replaceable apart from some mementos such as pictures or heirlooms. I think the key is to grab what you might need immediately to help you such as your purse/wallet, glasses (especially if your eyesight is as bad as mine) and meds. Of course, only after you have ensured your loved ones and pets are out and safe. Horrible to even have to think about this but it is good that we do from time to time.
Pets yes yes yes. It was Lucy who woke us up after all. Lucy the fluffy firefighter!
So beautifully written. Something about your daughter retrieving her sister’s childhood teddy bears got me all choked up! Thanks for sharing the photo of them in the basket with the photo albums.
Thank you so much. Teddy bears are cherished around these parts!
The picture of your babies safe and warm in bed reminds that this is all that is important-along with the pictures of them from that time. That video is haunting and such a reminder to take nothing for granted.
Sending xox Annie. Glad everyone is safe
Then and always my babies. Xo
So happy that everyone is OK! You have tabled a great question – Hubby, kids and our beloved dog are a given. Other than my iPad, cell phone and wallet, nothing else as family is the most important and everything else can be replaced, Over the years, all of our photos have been uploaded to Dropbox, with copies placed on USB sticks , which are safely stored in our safety deposit box. Copies of passports, birth certificates, health cards and an emergency Visa card – also in the safety deposit box as I know that I would never remember to grab these important items …. With 24 hour grocery stores, pet stores and shoppers drug marts – all the day to day things can be looked after no matter what time of the day (even the replacement of my thyroid meds, should I have left them in error, which would most likely happen!) Hopefully my family and I will never have to experience such an event – stuff can be replaced but family can not. We have family in Toronto, so we would have a roof over our head until everything got sorted out and having a special group of friends, who can make me smile, even during the darkest of days, is all that I would need – plus a couple of your amazing chocolate brownies and a slice of your yummy peach crumble! Love you and glad that you are all safe! xoxox
Wow. So organized. I am totally inspired!
I always love reading your blog, but this one had me in tears. I had heard about the fire closing off a part of Mount Pleasant on the news and at the time thought it was close to home, but with dear friends so nearby it, I didn’t realize how close to home it was. I’m so glad nobody was hurt. This is the prompt I need to start the huge project of digitizing our photos! Thank you, Anne, for all your thought-provoking and heartwarming blogposts.
Thank you so much for the awesome feedback!
Thank you so much for that feedback. The work of archiving? I feel as if we will never finish. XOXO