Fire, fire…



Just when I thought to take a break, we had a big fire in our small town. As we left to go shopping a huge black billowing sky-high tower of smoke was churning upwards. It was darkening the sun and moving rapidly towards us. Helvi thought we should not venture out. ‘It scares me’, she said.

Smoke and fire are to me what for others might be shopping or leafing through fashion magazines. I don’t want to cast aspersions onto the differences between the many sexes. The burning down of someone’s property and taking a delight into this plight can hardly be seen as an endearing quality or an enlightening embodiment of sensitivity. The taking pleasure in shopping or interest in fashion surely has a more noble aspect. No matter what indeterminate sex choses one such delight over the other. ( one has to be careful not to fall into the trap of just referring to male or female only)

If I suffer condemnation for seeking out and watching fires, so be it. It is all too late to change now. ‘I want to look at this fire,’ I announced to my wife. ‘Well, leave me home, I am scared,’ she said firmly. Firmly is what she is all about. In the meantime there were sirens and flashing police-cars adding to my now unstoppable curiosity about the fire. This black smoke, ‘It must be a large rubber depot or something,’ I surmised with an air of an incendiary expert. By now lots of kids were rushing by, mainly boys with some smaller children being accompanied by anxious looking mothers. You could tell the mother’s hearts were not really into the spirit of fire-watching.

By now the smoke was in such fury it formed and looked like a mini tornado. It was too late for me to drop Helvi back. With total selfishness and abandonment of common-sense I drove towards were I thought the fire was. I remembered a tyre outlet at the back of Aldi’s supermarket. We were on our way to Aldi anyway. I thought to combine both. Buy salmon cutlets and watch a good fire.

However, here is where it all came to nothing. The roads towards the fire had been blocked, and police were diverting traffic well away from this great fire. The only way would be to park the car and walk. But, so many cars had already done the same. Parking anywhere near the fire was already taken by those who wanted front-stall position. ‘Why don’t you have a look tomorrow, Helvi offered kindly?’ ‘I am sure the firemen don’t want the public hindering their work.’ ‘I am scared and want to go home, she said again. ‘Perhaps you can watch it on television,’ she added.

The fire turned out to be this tyre outlet. I drove by this morning. The firemen were still raking through the remnants of this building. Aldi survived and I managed to get the salmon cutlets just now.

Pity, I missed out on watching it.

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13 Responses to “Fire, fire…”

  1. berlioz1935 Says:

    Fire always has a fascination for people. We can’t help it. Some of us even start fires and then join in watching the commotion. Firebugs started the big fire in Haifa recently. 60,000 people had to be evacuated.A fire in Australia is always a dangerous situation as it so easily can spread.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist Says:

    I can remember as a child we lived opposite the fire station in a small country town. It had one employee stationed permanently on site. The others I presume were volunteers and had other jobs. When there was a fire the siren would sound around the town so everyone knew there was a fire happening somewhere. Most of the townsfolk would head to the firestation and then follow the firetruck to the fire. We only followed once when the Dairy Factory was on fire. You are definitely not alone in your fascination.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jennypellett Says:

    I’m wondering whether an incendiary expert with ‘airs’ might not just inflame the situation…

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, you are right, Jenny.
      Often one reads how those that can’t restrain themselves from the warmth that fires give, will enter fire fighter’s domain in order to get closer to where the action is.
      Inexorably they are drawn to the lure of striking a match and the call of the siren.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. happy go lucky Says:

    I remember Bon or was it Bomb fires once a year on some grassy area. Anything burnable, mainly wood would be piled up for a period prior to the main event. Was there a scare crow involved does anyone remember ?
    Our dull beige suburban streets came alive on the night.
    Neighbours mingelled and even talked. I think it was the wrong time of the year for extra joy by Mr Whippy coming along with his scratchy music. As kids we loved the fire with its crackling sounds. Cracker night with my favourite tupany bungers which could easily do serious damage if held lit for too long. I Never got cats involved but rusty letterboxes were in extreme danger of being obliterated!
    Those were the days.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Guy Fawkes lived on each year at the 5th of November and celebrated with bon fires and fire-crackers. I am not sure if the suburbs still hold them. I don’t think one can buy fireworks anymore.
      It was a time when neighbours would come out and share a beer or two.


  5. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    My sympathies are all with Helvi. Fires terrify me. I shared a flat for years with someone who worked in fire safety. She had been a translator for firemen all over the world. The stories she told were unbearable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, fire doesn’t hold any attractions for Helvi. She likes reading and gardening.

      My brothers, when very young burnt a disused Town-Hall which kept clothing that had been donated world-wide to victims of that terrible 1953 storm that broke through Dutch dykes and resulted in many drownings.

      They had climbed through a window and lit candles to give them light while going through all the rooms.
      When they climbed outside again they forgot to take the candles.
      They had front stall position when the fire got hold and the building went up.

      Later on someone must have told the fire fighters that they saw my brothers climb through the window.
      The detective took one of my brothers in his lap and asked;’ was it you who lit the candles, or was it him,’ pointing to his brother.

      They each accused each other and the detective got the confession. No charges were laid. They were toddlers.
      A couple of years later we were on the boat to Australia.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. shoreacres Says:

    I was glad to read the explanation for your brothers’ fire-setting. That first brief mention left me just a little concerned!

    Fire is fascinating, albeit terrifying. The current wildfires in Tennessee have been so destructive, and of course the fires in Israel are horrid. We had large, terrifying fires here in Texas in 2011, as a result of the drought. Great stands of rare pines were destroyed; it was sad beyond belief.

    You do know that you can track fires by radar, don’t you? The smoke plumes are obvious, and can provide a lot of information about which direction the fire’s going. I happened to see the beginning of our 2011 fire because I was watching bats leave their cave near San Antonio. It’s amazing how many natural phenomena show up on radar. Even raptor migrations can be tracked.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Linda. I know that in your neck of the woods wild-fires too are prevalent. Often the weather with lightning storms are the cause but also, and lately more often, the fires were lit deliberately.

      You are right large fires can be detected, and followed by satellite. We drove again past the burnt tyre place yesterday, and I noticed a fireman talking to neatly dressed men wearing white shirts and ties. I suppose with the large and costly damage the insurance people are assessing the cost.

      I hope the owners will get paid out soon. I don’t hold my breath. Getting money out of insurance companies is much more difficult than the same companies accepting your premiums.

      Liked by 1 person

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