Thursday of last week was an incredibly windy day. It was blowing so hard I had to fight to keep my little Kia on the highway.
But that's not what was responsible for the lump of dread curled up in my chest. It was the thick black smoke billowing ominously on the horizon, promising devastation and destruction, that knotted fear in my stomach.
The smoke plume consumed my attention the closer I got to home. At first I thought a new development on the outskirts of town was on fire, but as I got closer it became clear the origin of the smoke was in our neighbourhood.
I rounded the street corner and was faced with this...
The apartment complex at the end of our back lane was on fire. It had started about twenty minutes earlier. The fire fighters fought with every weapon they had but the enemy that evening was the wind.
Within a half an hour of taking this picture the entire complex had been burned from one end to the other.
I've never seen a fire this devastating in close proximity. Hopefully I never will again. I prayed for the residents of the complex and for the fire fighters; wondering selfishly if they would be able to contain it, or if our street would be told to evacuate.
A few hours later they knocked down the fire and contained it, but continued the battle until 1:00 o'clock in the morning.
A week later the building stands, a black, burnt out shell. Demolition has started and the neighbourhood has resumed normal activities.
But what about the 60 residents trying to pick up what's left of their lives? No one was seriously injured in the blaze, but some families lost pets, and a number of people lost everything they owned. A life history...gone.
I can't imagine the overwhelming the sense of loss. Where do you go? What do you do? Where do you live? How do you start over?
I write this because it's a reminder of how much I take for granted. Our home, my family, the clothes I wear, the furniture we sit on, the pictures in albums, keepsakes, memorabilia, our cats.
These are all things we need to appreciate. One day, with no warning, they may be gone.
The community and churches have banded together to provide support for the people displaced in the fire. Community spirit is alive and well, but there will be much healing left to be done for the people affected by the loss.
Please pray for these families. Keep them in your hearts, and hug your spouse, your children, and your pets a little tighter tonight.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Take a few minutes and try to imagine what it would be like to lose everything you owned in an instant. Share your thoughts by clicking on "comments" below. The next time you hear about a tragedy like this, don't turn a blind eye. Take action to help out.