Saturday night fire
July 11, 2007
It was late evening when Stefan shouted at me to chain up the dogs and get to the river. There was a fire and people were running so I just followed. Stef raced around the village in the car to warn everyone. Then the shocking site of a burning house in the dark. Women, children and old people were in a chain to the river (very dry because of the hot weather) with buckets, pans, anything. I ran into the front garden and saw the old couple who lived there with bare feet trying to get back into the exploding house – it was engulfed in flames, glass flying. I led the sobbing woman to the neighbour. I was in shock myself. There followed a long night fighting the flames with dirty river water. Some men rushed to bring their agricultural pumps. Nobody could see anything as it was pitch black. They just threw themselves into it. We were all falling over in the mud, water over us all but all united. The old-fashioned, lumbering fire engine arrived 3 hours later from Kotel and then didn’t work. Another one arrived much later and Stefan went to guide it. I then spent hours watching him on the burning roof with the hose. The firemen wouldn’t go up there. All I could see was his little pocket torch so I knew he was still there.
The fire was started accidently by the old man who had lit his fire at night because there was a chill after the heat of the day. I have a picture of him a few days earlier cutting the Linden tree.
I’m still thinking about that night. How everyone worked together. No moaning about the appaling conditions or how someone could have been killed. No waiting for ‘the emergency services’. I saw one young man in one of the rooms chucking buckets of water and was sure the roof would collapse on him. Everyone was brave. Those who just watched (there were few) were talked about the next day, but the village seemed happy that we managed to put it out ourselves.