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So a few hours ago, I was sitting with friends and finishing my drink in their backyard after a long evening of BBQ, and a girl rushes into the yard. “Sorry to bother you, but someone’s house is on fire!”
We quickly headed to the street, where across the street flames rumbled up from the attic. Two different people were calling 911, while the gal who informed us ran over and started banging on the door and windows. I ran to the side where there was a garden hose, but it’s not on. We circle round the back, a guy banging on the door while I look in vain for water. I hear that there’s an old man who lives alone here – renovating this house has been his dream. Other people go to the neighbors and tell them the house next door is on fire – an old lady in a nightgown emerges and looks on in concern. There are police sirens blaring. I turn to meet them – I want to hand over information to them so they can take control of the scene.
A police car pulls up and two officers jump out. “I let them know that an old man lives there, but we don’t know if he is home, and they drop into a full run. They reach the door, yelling “OPEN UP, POLICE!” Hearing no response, they broke in. Another car pulls up and two more officers jump out and sprint toward the house. I am not clear if they joined the others at the back door or went around to the front. I back away to the street and to the other side as they continue their search. The officers were wearing COVID masks but no other protective gear against a fire, but they went in anyway.
As the firetrucks arrive, I tell the first fireman out of the truck the situation and mention the police had gone around back to go inside. The firemen quickly get to work – it takes some time, but they start hooking up hoses and donning their PPE. The two gals that had first noticed the fire were talking, and my friend introduced us more formally. They were talking about how the police charged into the burning building, and I said “Remember this the next time you hear someone talking about the police.” One nodded her head, saying she agreed but didn’t want to bring that up. The other seemed conflicted, saying she disagreed but understood why I thought that.
As the situation calmed down, several officers were chatting off to the side. I walked over and thanked them, and told them that we appreciated them no matter what people say. What they did was probably against policy, but it was the right thing to do, and it could have saved lives if the old man had been home.Published in