Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Our usual conversation, "I have a meeting at 6. I am going to do my cardio on the way there and then we can do dinner after"
and then I looked up and I kept driving down College Acres drive I saw this thick black smoke rising up high over the trees, coming from our neighborhood.
"Michael, there is a fire!"
I pulled into the neighborhood and for a brief moment I thought the plume was directly over our town home, but as i adjusted I could see that it was down the street.
"Our house is ok...but this is bad..I love you and will call you back"
I dropped the phone and pulled into the street. I saw two police cars that had blocked the street in front of a unit that was engulfed in smoke and flame. one officer was headed up the street and other was running, literally running around the back, darting in and out of the doorways, in what appeared to be making sure that people were out of the units around the burning building.
One of the oldest neighbors (in terms of living here), whose home was only two units down from the fire was trying to pull her car out of her garage. People were gathering on the street and no one seemed to know what was happening.
One young woman responded that those who lived in the home that was burning had been at the pool, so they were ok. My other neighbor in the car said she thought the unit next door was unoccupied as that person was away and was getting married. So we focused on moving her car and securing her precious dog..of whom an entire group of people took possession so that Jeannie (my neighbor) could attend to securing her home and then getting out.
All along this tall, dark haired officer was going from one unit to another with his comrade and ensuring that there were no other folks in danger. The speed he was moving was incredible and he/they were focused. I can tell you this, that no one was injured because that officer and his comrade were on it from the that moment to the last. It was impressive to watch and a blessing during all the choas of those first minutes that seemed to last forever.
The WFD got there in record time and with one truck after another and like precision clockwork they got to work. When they opened up, and the crashing of the windows and the front door began, I have never experienced seeing smoke and flame like that in my entire life. How they endure that is beyond immagination..but they did so without stopping a beat and went to handling the blaze. We saw the flames break through the second floor roof and rise high into the air..and they fought back and eventually brought it under control.
At the end though, we found out that the three dogs that had resided in the home perished.
The tenants in this home, the residents, the victims of this awful and tragic fire, were varsity players at UNCW.
So much loss..
It is hard to fathom.
I also found out that those two officers that were so heroic..that should be recognized for acting so bravely and so responsively as the first on the scene were TR Williams and BW Sommer. God bless them both! 

There is a blessing in human life and physical injury being spared by the flames, but there is deep mourning for the loss of their beloved animals. There is mourning for the loss of whatever "things" that might have gone to ash in that home. We have "things" that remind us of good. Remind us of people. Remind us of ourselves in many ways. To turn to ash in such a quick moment...I cannot fathom, but I can imagine.

So, I offer my prayers of solace, of peace, of love to the victims. I also hope that whatever they lost, their memories, emotions, and feelings that are associated in the positive with the physical "things" can remain with them once the mourning has transpired.

I can still smell the smoke. It is so powerful. But that smell will dissapate. Renewal will come. It reminds me that what is forever lasting is goodness, all else passes.

thanks be to God!


mbrshort40 said...

Do you know if the Red Cross or Salvation Army is helping these guys? If you find out any of their needs, can you post here or FB? Such a sad thing to go through and to witness...:(

MamaK said...

Reading your account of this fire reminds me of some of the historic reading I've been doing lately. Fire has been so destructive in our cities. At one time, a fire like this could have resulted in many city blocks going up in flames. We are fortunate indeed to have the firefighters and the technology to contain such a highly destructive force.

L.S. "Bo" Dean said...

I just learned from Soccer Coach at UNCW, Coach Cairny that a fund is set up for the two UNCW Soceer players who lost everyting. Donations can be sent to:

Lindsay Henry
1201 Preservation Way Apt. 305
Wilmington, NC 28405
Thanks to all who can help!