Before I start this post, let me just say, we are safe for which I am hugely, hugely thankful.
But, I found myself, at half past five this morning, offering a fireman a cup of tea, and in fact, tea for all the firemen. We had been woken up just after 4:00am by what I thought were drunks shouting in the street. Until my lovely husband told me I had to wake up because there was a fire. I had to put on my dressing gown and shoes, find a box to put our snake in, and get out.
I was still half asleep but immediately awake. I could smell smoke. I could hear shouting. I was terrified. My dressing gown wouldn't go on, I had to take it off again. The nearest box had baubles in it for Christmas, I literally turned it upside down and rushed into the living room to give it to Carl to put Casper in.
I couldn't get my shoes on. I fumbled and got them on. Carl told me to wake the neighbours, to make sure those above us were awake, while he got Casper into the box. I later jokingly said I must be an obedient wife, to go upstairs in a burning building without a second thought because he had told me to!
We stumbled down the stairs, with the smoke getting stronger. Nothing felt real. We spilled out onto the road, and our neighbour from upstairs was just about to phone the fire brigade when 3 fire engines pulled into the road. We stood, dazed, as smoke poured from the fire.
Our flat is first floor, but underneath us is the car park, and to the side is a storage area which is always locked, and it was here that the fire was, right next to our car - I was terrified it was going to explode. The fire crews were like a team of ants, swarming everywhere, checking everyone was out, fighting the fire. An hour or so later, they said we could go back in. Our lungs were sore, but we were safe.
The smell of smoke is so, so strong, but happily there is no actual smoke damage. We wandered around, dazed, thankful, everything surreal. It was so cold outside. Then there was a knock on the door, and a fireman came in with a thermal imaging camera to check that there were not hot spots, as we were just above and to the side of the fire, but we were all safe.
Carl has gone to work, and I have been phoning our letting agency, the insurers, Sky and of course our families. There are some electrical issues but nothing major. I am so, so, thankful we are ok.
When we stumbled out into the street, we had our dressing gowns and shoes, and our snake. Not even our glasses. For the hour we were out there, we had no idea if that was all we were going to have again. We came so close to losing everything, and if it hadn't been for the people outside who woke us up, we could have lost much more than just our home and our things.
I need more tea, and to wash the smoke out of my hair. I think I am probably a little bit in shock. I just keep remembering Carl telling me that I had to wake up and get out. I remember him making me go first to get out safely, and being terrified that he wouldn't be behind me any more. All instinct. He kept me safe. He got our snake out, and thought about the neighbours. What an amazing man.
I have a headache, I am tired and hungry and thirsty and smokey, and am coughing horrible black stuff up, but I am here, I am ok, and I am so, so thankful. We have had so many lovely friends and family email or text or phone or send messages on facebook. We are so, so blessed.
One thing I will definitely be doing is putting together a grab bag with some documents and useful things in it, and perhaps keep a shoe box full of wood chips for poor Casper next time. Later I will be phoning the fire department to say thank you, thank you, thank you. I know they are trained, I know it is their job, and I know in the scheme of things our fire was little, but those men came out in the middle of the night and ran towards a fire to put it out. That is pretty amazing, if you ask me.
Today the teapot will be filled and emptied, filled and emptied. I will drink solace and be thankful. Please, don't worry, as we really are all fine, but I just needed to come and share what had happened. Thank you for being there,