Best of 2020

My House has Been on Fire for the Past Four Years but I’m Still Undecided About Calling the Fire Department

Hey there, new neighbor! Sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the roaring blaze destroying my home. Have I decided if I should call the fire department or not? No, I haven’t, not yet at least. I still need more time. What am I waiting for? I’m not sure if they’ll make the state of my home any better. Yes, we’ve been running out of air and visibility for awhile now, but isn’t the fire department just as bad?

Why don’t I tell you how we got here since people always seem so shocked when they see us bringing groceries into our still-burning split-level home. In 2016, this fire was just a little tiny spark from a faulty electrical switch next to our, very vapory, can of gas in the garage. People warned us not to use that electrical switch. The only other switch in the room worked fine, but it was a toggle switch. We just don’t like toggle switches. Basically, it wasn’t a problem yet so we did nothing to fix it. Then the faulty switch and gas blew up in our faces, literally. We did not see that one coming!

Before we knew it, it was 2017 and the fire had moved to the living room, which we never cared for so it wasn’t that bad. It was always a bit drafty, which actually was great for the fire. We were at another decision point: let the fire run wild or call the fire department. I was not stoked about either option. Pardon the pun–we burn through a lot of fire humor around here ever since…well, you know, the fire. Both options were equally bad: we could either lose our house to the fire or have it be saved by a government-funded program and have our taxes go sky high!

Cut to 2018. We still had functional use of half of our home, but only in shorts and tees unless you wanted to sweat something fierce and pass out. No cozy sweater weather for us — we learned that the hard way. We sure hate living this way, but what can we do besides doing the one thing that will change the state of our house?

Finally, in 2019, our neighbor on the other side, Steve, really wanted us to call the fire department because he said “putting out this fire is the most important thing right now. We can talk about how to improve the house after the fire is out.” Steve’s plea didn’t really convince me, though. I’m just not really sure what they’ll do when they get to the office; my home office, that is. It’s already burnt to a crisp. Their website states that they will “safely put out the fire” so we can “move on with our lives,” but how do we know that will lead to something better? Water damage is also a killer for homes, rot in the wood, black mold, soggy carpets, etc. The fire fighters will put out the fire, but at what cost? WillI we even recognize our home after the fire fighters are let in?

By March of this year we were down to using just one room of the house, and the smoke was creeping in something terrible, but it was our room. Well, not actually. Our room had burned up months ago. We were sleeping in a storage closet, but it was our storage closet. I think. It’s really tough to orient yourself in the house without any visible markers that aren’t balls of fire.

We don’t like what the fire’s been doing to the house but there are more important things to consider when calling the fire department. Like, are the truck sirens going to be too much of a distraction and change the climate of our neighborhood? Will they respect our decades long decision to row, and not wade, across our moat? Are they going to park the fire truck on my lawn? We just had that reseeded a few years ago. That’s a big motivating factor for us. The fire burning up our spare bedroom doesn’t necessarily impact how our house is presented to the neighborhood. What I care about is my grass–I care about my lawn and border shrubs.

It would be wrong of us to make a decision right now as to whether we should let our house burn down or call the fire department based on the continued actions of the house fire these past four years. I don’t think that’s very fair, but the fire would probably have to put itself out for us to change our mind about it. We’re willing to give it more time to see if it might do that. Stop by the house again in another week or so and I’ll let you know which way we’re leaning about maybe doing something!