Small-Town Living, or, Why I’m Glad I Live Three Blocks from a Fire Department

On Friday mornings, my neighbor and I have a standing date to walk down to our local farmers market together. Her one-year-old happily rides along in his stroller, munching on strawberries. Occasionally, though, like when I arrange to pick up a 25-pound box of canning tomatoes, we drive my friend’s minivan instead of walking.

This was one of those mornings.

A few blocks from my house, and hence, only a few blocks from the market, my friend suddenly stopped in mid-conversation, slowed down, and pointed. She had a “Wha–?” expression on her face. I looked over and saw a beat-up pickup truck, a really beat-up pickup, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Oh, except for the smoke pouring out of the cab. I didn’t notice that at first. Or the full-on flames visible through the open peep window in the back of the cab.

Yes, a fire. In this person’s truck. At 7:30 in the morning. With nobody else around.

My friend pulled over and I ran over to the house to pound on the door. (Far be it from me to approach a vehicle that is quickly getting consumed in flames. I’ve seen movies. I know how these things go.) A startled fellow opened the door, and I gestured madly at him, nearly yelling: “YOUR TRUCK IS ON FIRE!”

How often does one get to say that?

He turned to holler at someone in the house, ran to the truck, and, I suppose realizing what a lost cause it was, phoned the fire department.

We, meanwhile, continued calmly down the road to the market. While stopped at a red light on Main Street, we heard the sirens and within moments a wailing fire truck. We patted ourselves on the back, confident that we had personally been responsible for saving the day.

Let me emphasize something though. The fire truck zoomed by us, for real, less than five minutes since the call had been made. I would say it was more like two minutes, but I don’t want you to think I am exaggerating. I’m not. It was fast. My town is small.

And that’s what I call yet another reason I’m glad I live in small community: not only do we tell our neighbors when their trucks are on fire, but our fire department is pretty darn efficient.


7 comments on “Small-Town Living, or, Why I’m Glad I Live Three Blocks from a Fire Department

  1. Mom(bonnie) says:

    I’m sure your community has lots of people who would qualify as a hero, now you are one of them!!!! ( But you may already have been one!) love you

  2. stephen says:

    Wow… That’s the second time in your life you’ve come upon a vehicle on fire. Remember the car on fire on Peter’s Mountain.

    Good job helping a “neighbor” out.

  3. elizabeth says:

    Thanks, Momma. I’m not sure this qualifies as a heroic act or not. J says that calling the fire department first, before knocking on the door, may have been a better idea. 🙂 But he was still supportive of my getting involved!

    Stephen, I do remember that incident, but I would have said the house was on fire, and there was a car pulled up to the garage… I do remember feeling like we needed to do something. Did we do something? Were we by ourselves? Was it the car that was actually on fire? I mostly remember being scared poopless. (That’s my Schmexas censoring coming out.)

  4. stephen says:

    I believe you are getting two memories intermingled…

    1. We were driving out Clarks Valley and there was a house on fire with a car in the driveway on fire. We were with Mom and the fire department had just arrived.

    2. We were on our way to Thanksgiving with Dad in his “work” van and he had a fire extinguisher in the van. He gave the guy the extinguisher to help put out the fire, then we were on our way.

    These two incidents are why I carry a fire extinguisher in both of my vehicles as well as a well prepared first aid kit. Because though I may not be fully trained in first aid, I want to be able to help my community if they are in need.

    p.s. J is probably right, but I am not sure if I would have called before alerting the house. I wonder how many other people drove by without stopping. Bravo to you…

    • elizabeth says:

      Ah yes, I had forgotten about the flaming vehicle alongside the road on Peters Mountain. I remember thinking, even then, that the car was going to explode. I obviously have a hyperactive imagination.

      I’m not even sure I have a fire extinguisher in my own house that hasn’t expired. 🙂

  5. Olivia says:

    Not much has changed….considering living right across the street from the fire dept. growing up. 😉

    I also remember an incident where you remained ‘calm’ in an emergency situation in high school. We witnessed an accident in Hbg coming home from youth group, and you ran to the car to make sure the person was ok, and stayed with them until emergency personnel were on the scene.

    ‘Hero’, may be a lil much, but helpful you were definitely that. 😉

    • elizabeth says:

      Yeah, I’m far enough away now that I don’t need to cover my ears at noon on Saturday. (They actually do that on weekdays here… or maybe just a random weekday. The fact that I don’t know is a sign I’m not THAT close. But across the street from one was an interesting way to grow up, as you know.)

      I definitely remember that accident, and I pointed out the intersection to J when we drove by it in July. By the way, my first reckless action after jumping out of our car was to grab the cell phone of a stranger in a nearby car and call 911. Do you remember that part? Then I ran to the car to make sure the person was okay, and helped to push the car out of the middle of the intersection. I can’t take much credit though because there were lots of helpful folks getting involved, especially considering it was night time in a rather shady part of town!

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