BY STEVE HARTSOCK

Thank you just doesn’t seem to cut it today as I think back on the heroics of our local fire departments last Tuesday when they saved my house from the flames.

Flames had fully engulfed my neighbor, Mike Goolsby’s home by the time the fire fighters arrived and the intense heat was breaking out the windows on the south side of my home as the vinyl siding began to melt and slide down the side of the house. The roofing was beginning to smoke and firemen warned us to get anything out of the house we could before it was too late . . .

Words no one ever wants to hear made my heart sink and my wife to lose her cool. 

Neighbors began running in and out of the house carrying our possessions to the yard as firemen put up a fire curtain of water between my home and the inferno just  20 feet away. In the driveway between the houses, my camper burst into flames and in minutes was gone.

Firemen poured water on the flames, unwavering as power lines popped and sizzled around them. Explosions from the propane cylinders in the camper exploded. Finally the fire was put down. My home was still standing. Neighbors began carting stuff back in the house. Friends called and wanted to help in anyway they could. Many showed up and offered comfort to Beth as she cried in Brad and Denise Schroeder’s yard. My neighbors are amazing by the way.

Doug Raber with State Farm and Randy Hallam with Heartland Insurance were both on the scene getting information and answering questions, not just as insurance agents, but as friends as well.

People brought cold water for the firemen. Someone brought pizzas as the firemen worked through the lunch hour and into the afternoon. I think it was Doug and Andi Ford among others. Crossville and Albion responded to give aid to the Little Wabash Firemen.

The Camper was a total loss. Our house was seriously damaged.  Unlike Mike and his wife Luba who lost everything including their little dog, Beth and I still have a home. All of our stuff, gathered up over our lifetime, is still there. 

In the light of Mike and Luba’s loss it seems lame, but our vacation plans to go camping this week were among the ashes in our burnt camper. Until Friday that is, when a friend showed up on my front porch and gave me the incredible news. A bunch of them had gotten together and rented Beth and I a new camper to take on our vacation. I’ve heard it a thousand times that I live in a special place populated by special people. It’s true.

I knew it already of course. But knowing something and having it forever etched on your heart by a terrible fire are two different things. 

Thank you Grayville for just being who you are. Beth and I will never forget this.