An updated May 2/12 follow up to the Whitby House Fire next Door.
This past Sunday morning’s events opened my eyes. I recorded a house fire that turned into a massive story about tragedy and loss in Whitby. Personally as neighbours, our emotions ran wild with fear, anguish, helplessness, despair and anxiety. As in most tragic happenings, I’d say it’s fear of the uncontrollable unknown that sets in. I was recording this fire for a few reasons. It was too close for comfort, I knew the property well and I wanted it to be a tool in our own fire drills at home.
Some of the images I captured became very important tools for the media to use in reporting the story. There were many other images from various directions taken by several people as well. This is the age we live in, technology lets us see it as it happens. We’re so desensitized by the use of modern technology, that without images, news fades or doesn’t even surface. Images last, allowing people to reflect long after the event. Instead of saying they heard something about the Whitby House fire, they are able to see just how bad the fire in our community was. This is what I’m hoping will happen here, that it’s not something that happens somewhere else it can happen right here at home.
Little did I realize just how involved sharing some captured images could be. I wanted to send video clips I had taken of the fire to the media. The maximum file size is too small to really send much, so I posted them on YouTube and sent out a link. WHOA!!! By morning the story was unfolding and here we were, smack in the middle. Talk about a media scrum, the saying “give an inch and they’ll take a mile” that is true. We hadn’t slept all night and we weren’t about to anytime soon. We shared file images, gave interviews and let someone on the roof; what a bad idea. No, my daughter letting media in the house was. Though very respectful, they knew what they came for. I did not video anything that was disrespectful, and declined to read the licence plate number as requested by several media outlets on phone interviews.
For several years we’ve practiced a family fire drill; I don’t mean the get out and meet on the driveway next door. This is a full-fledged sudden fire; a “FIRE! FIRE!, GET OUT NOW!” type drill we started when my eldest daughter was very young. We had already gone over the major escape routes and the procedure of evacuation, and how to decide the use of each one. At the beginning of a fire, get out, call 911 and meet across the street. We also have a large bell on the wall close to an exit. If time permits, “RING RING RING” to alert everyone in the house. Our daugthers also know not to hide or try to grab anything on the way out. We have the exit at the closest point (like a window, for immediate escape). This would be used when there are full flames blocking main exits or when there is extreme smoke. Then there is crawling to the easiest door (a smokey area that is clear enough to crawl on the floor, allowing access to get out a main level door).
This loss is so tragic and senseless, I can only speculate that in this story there is a hero; the person who called 911. I believe the person was selfless and may have tried to save the others. Requests made by a few people to remove the video (they could be family, friends or even heartbroken strangers), is completely understandable. Torn, I sought professional advice that said I’ve done nothing wrong. To remove the video would do a greater disservice to the cause I mentioned earlier. However out the deepest respect and aching heart for the families the video is now removed. Over the days, months and years to come. Who knows how many lives can be saved by any one person or family implementing safety measures in their home.
We’re all in this life together: Peter a fellow blogger and A friend, always prays for the neighbours on either side of him, and the three across the street. “Let your prayers be a spark of hope”.