Monday, March 12, 2012

Running on the Next Call

  Sunday, my cell phone rang and the call was a tip on a fully involved structure fire in New Hanover Township. It was my day off, but I learned long ago that news doesn't happen 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, so I made the decision to run out and cover it. It's never easy to leave the house, but I'll decide to go if I feel the incident is serious enough.
   We were having a nice afternoon, my daughter was taking her 3 year old to her first movie to see the Lorax. My son-in-law and I took the younger ones to the Elmwood Park Zoo. The kids had fun and when we got back home it was warm enough to keep them outside to play on the swings and the princess house that my wife Deb got for them. We have a play room on the back of the house filled with toys to play with. I love the noise of them screaming and laughing while they run around. They wear me out but this keeps me young. After things settled down, we all had dinner together. That's when the phone rang.
   I was almost finished but I got up from the table and scraped the rest into the trash. My son-in-law asked if I was on call and my wife Deb said to him that I'm always on call. I didn't have to answer she and my girls have been dealing with me running out for years. I have to pick and choose. There are times when I want to run but have to hold back. But when news is what you do it's tough not to go. This fire was one I felt I should cover. The three year old looked at me and said "Poppy don't go, stay here." I looked at her and said , "I have to go to work baby but I'll see you soon." They are too small to understand but it breaks my heart to leave.
   The phone rang again while driving to the scene and I found out that it was looking like a possible arson and someone was seen running from the area. I drove over a hill toward Gilbertsville and could see black smoke venting into the sky.
   With my car parked, I hustled down a long driveway to get to the fire scene. I could already see the large hole in the roof where fire burned through. Flames were still licking out from the building as New Hanover, Sassamansville and Gilbertsville firemen kept water on the blaze preventing it from spreading to dry fields surrounding them. The house was abandoned, but the story is that there's someone out there setting fires regardless of the value to the property. We need to get that message out, and to show the firemen also giving up their family time to volunteer and put themselves in harms way to fight these fires.
    I shot photos and video of the action around me. I stayed on the scene about thirty mintues and headed back to the office to download images and process the video for the website. Finishing up, I talked to the desk editor, told him to call if he had any questions and I was out the door.
   When I got home shortly after 8 p.m. the house was quiet again. All the toys were picked up. I smelled of smoke so I took my clothes and threw them out onto the back deck. I asked Deb how the rest of the evening went and she smiled saying that it was great, telling me the girls went down the sliding board a hundred times, and played with every toy in their play room.
   She asked about the fire and I said that the home was totaled and it was looking like a suspicious blaze. End of story. We settled in together for the late Sunday evening and flipped on the television and relaxed watching a show on grizzly bears in Yellowstone.
   Quiet is good, but we look forward to seeing all of our grandkids soon, bringing their endless energy that keeps me smiling. Hopefully, the phone won't ring.

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