My husband and I stayed home over the 4th of July holiday, to rest from travel and to get things done around the house. We also became firefighters that weekend, for what I hope was the first and last time in our lives.
It was Sunday afternoon and we were staking tomatoes in our garden. My husband paused at one point and said he thought he smelled something burning. That is somewhat normal, especially on a BBQ abundant weekend, so we kept working. But about 15 minutes later he stopped again and said, "That's not food. It's trash. Something is burning." I looked up then and saw a plume of dark smoke rising from the back of our neighbor's garage. "There!" I shouted, and we ran out to the alley to find our neighbor's trash can melting, and spewing flames. There was no hope of our hose reaching it, so as my husband kicked the can away from the garage, I ran back to our yard. There was a 5 gallon plaster bucket that was nearly empty of plaster but full of water. He had left it out to dissolve the plaster remnants and then use the water to enrich our garden soil. But my eyes landed on it then as salvation and that water instead became the first 5 gallons of the 60 gallons that we bucket brigaded back and forth to finally put out the flames. He used a rake and shovel to pull everything apart and spread it out, drenching everything in sight. At one point I was filling a bucket and the neighbor just north of us came to our gate. "Are you taking care of that fire?," he asked. "I just drove by and saw it. I've been trying doors but no one is home." I'll admit I gave him a, "Are you kidding me?!" look. Son, when a garbage can is on fire, you don't try doors. You get water!! But I told him yes, we're handling it. I'm sure there's some sort of PSA out there that says you're not supposed to put fires out alone and you should call 911. But we didn't want to allow the flames the time to grow, and happily the moment passed quickly. We were sweaty and a little shaky, but crisis averted. I tried several neighbor's doors and phones afterward but no one was home. It came to light later that two kids had put their burnt out fireworks into the can earlier that day. The contents of the trash can were the perfect cocktail of combustibles, and it didn't take long for the heat to turn to flame. Our other neighbor caught two boys taking pictures of the carnage later, and talking about how they were somewhat shocked as they had put fireworks in that same can. She gave them what she called, "A good tongue lashing." She is a saint who never swears, but she swore at them she said, and I agreed it was justified.
We were cleaning out the eaves in front of the house later in the day when our neighbor pulled up. I hollered down from the ladder so he wouldn't be surprised by the a mess of clothes, paper and grass clippings, melted, burnt and soaked in front of his garage. He thanked us then, and again a few day's later with a bottle of wine left on our porch. I chuckled that he got my husband's name wrong but appreciated the gesture, especailly knowing he's a quiet man who keeps to himself. One good thing that came out of it was we have rarely spoken with him in the last two years, and now we have 3 times in a week.
So, all's well that ends well, and we continue to love our dear little neighborhood.