Truly a normal afternoon this past Monday. I was doing what I do best (“Workin’ hard to get my fill”) and writing a pre-scheduled blog post (so “it goes on and on”), which will be shared in the near future.
I just put the finishing touches on it when I realized the time and knew I needed to go get my girls from pre-school, which would let out in the next 20 minutes at 3 pm.
Heading out my front door, I smelled what to me could be taken for burnt rubber. My initial thought was that as cold as it was earlier in the morning with a freak snow storm that pretty much was all cleared up as the April sun came out and did the trick melting the inch or so that had dropped hours earlier, that it wasn’t cold enough for a fire place. So, the smell couldn’t have been a fire place. Yet, it was too cold and too early in the day for a barbecue to be lit and going. But, yet, I couldn’t help, but think something was burning.
However, I got in my car and put it out of my mind, because I didn’t want to be late getting the girls from school. As I made the left hand turn out of my block and tried to merge onto the main road to head north towards the girls’ pre-school, I looked up and was overtaken with black, sooty, billowing clouds.
I knew right away that these were definitely not rain clouds (as the storm had passed and the sun was clearly out). And looked like smoke coming from the distant horizon. It dawned on me that I was not going to be able to merge, as a volunteer fire truck zoomed past me on my left and then seeing traffic pretty much at a stand stile right past the approaching light.
The sky was grey, as dark as the night and knew pretty quickly there was a fire somewhere pretty close by.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure where, but could judge from the proximity of the ashen sky it was close and definitely far off.
I had about 15 minutes to play with now to pick up the girls from the end of their pre-school day.
I barely made it there, taking the back roads avoiding the fire just north of us.
Once, I had my girls safely in my car, I placed a phone call to my parents at home putting them on speaker phone while drove back towards home. They put on the local news channel and found out the fire was literally 2 minutes down the road north at a local pool store known as, Island Recreational.
The fire had literally just started shortly before I saw those clouds a little before 3 pm when the general manager and his employees saw lights flash and also heard popping like noises from the ceiling and continued to rage on until it was brought under control around 5:30 pm (for almost 2 1/2 hours). It took a hundred firefighters from 13 different fire companies to bring this fire indeed under control.
This was a store that has been around since 1976 and a staple in the community for seasonal pool needs. I had friends who worked there during summers’ past when I was younger and in high school.
For I live in a small suburban town (“Just a small town girl”) and was moved here as a teenager. I actually went to school and graduated with the local pizzeria owner’s son, who has had his pizzeria in that shopping center for as long as I can recall and remember. This is a town where most people know each other or know someone that knows you.
Never in a million years would I have imagined a fire of this magnitude almost in my own backyard.
The massive fire even caused the one lane traffic road to be shut down for hours upon hours while the fire fighters were battling the fire.
Now it has since re-opened and passing by to see a huge hole (the building it pretty much gone) where the pool supply store is surreal. I can’t avoid passing it to get from one end of the town to the next myself.
In the aftermath, cars are slowing down as you pass to indeed get a glimpse of the wreckage and I think many in the neighborhood are in a state of shock (including myself), because again a very small town that has very little front page breaking news stories occur here for us.
Our town definitely got its 5 minutes of fame from this, but at what cost?
Truly wish, that news’ outlets would show up for the good times and not just for the bad, because this was a tragedy that thankfully didn’t take any lives or cause many major injuries. But still not only was the Island Recreational Pool Supplies Store demolished, but so a local barber store and Chinese restaurant (owned by the family of a girl I graduated with also) in that same shopping center damaged, too.
Will admit this is one Monday afternoon, I will not be soon forgetting and like a train wreck will not be able to look away when I pass the once pool supply store that now is very much all but gone will rubble standing in its once former place.
Just a building, indeed, in a small town, but definitely holds enough memories for all those that have and do live here, as well as for this small town girl, who a day later is exhausted from (“taking that midnight train”) being up very early the morning before with Emma, who was having nightmares about squirrels being in her bedroom (couldn’t make this up if I tried either).
Crazy as it sounds my emotions are heightened and have the Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believin'” in my head on this Wednesday, if you couldn’t tell.
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