Just when Janet Clair thought things could not get worse, they did for her on Wednesday afternoon. She has just been laid off from her job and was struggling to care for her six children, when an accidental fire broke out in her home. Her youngest daughter got a hold of a lighter and set one of the bunk beds’ mattresses on fire. She was so scared that she shut the door and didn’t tell anyone. Janet and the two other siblings were taking a nap and awoke to smoke and fire alarms going off. By that time the house was so smoky all Janet could do was grab the kids and rush out the house.
What began as a relaxing day of rest turned into a day of misery, pain, and a nightmare for Janet and her household.
As a Red Cross intern arriving on the scene to my first fire, the house appeared fine from the outside. But to my surprise once I stepped inside that was not the case. A lot of the family members sitting on the couch had looks of disappointment on their faces about the damage the fire did to the house when we entered into the house. It was not until I begin to walk up the stairs that I inhaled the smell of smoke. The first floor of the house remained untouched by the fire, but the two rooms in the attic were destroyed. Holes in the room’s ceilings, shredded pieces of clothing on the floor, and both mattresses to the bunk beds were totally disintegrated.
Janet followed us into the room where the fire started and once the other Red Cross intern asked her a simple question, “How are you?” she broke out in tears explaining she that she didn’t know what her next move would be. That basic question is what triggered in my mind and heart what it means for a family to be a victim of a fire.
Fires have one sole purpose and that’s to burn and destroy. It does not decipher right from wrong, friend from foe, or loved ones from distant. I realized this fire not only destroyed the material possessions for this family, but it devastated their lives.
Janet and her family escaped the fire’s path but it left behind tears, pain, anger, and broken memories. This fire did not destroy everything for Janet, but it left her with a story to tell and more responsibilities to carry from that point on.
At that moment I began to think to myself money cannot buy everything it can only buy so much, but the soul is something money cannot fix permanently. However, the Red Cross appeared to Janet as her only saving hope for the future. Besides providing for her financially, the fact that we were there to listen showed Janet someone cares. That meant a lot to her more than I could ever understand.
Being there made me view Red Cross as a symbol of hope for the pain and misery that many face during a fire. Red Cross is seen as an outlet of hope for others to not just make it through that day but down the road.