Two weeks ago tomorrow, our neighbor's house burned down. Devon's house. I was home and in the office paying bills and I looked up, out the south windows and saw fog rolling in. The weather was changing quickly I thought and then I saw little black things floating in the air. Smoke. I got up to look out the north windows and all I could see was billows of thick, black smoke. Every once in a while I caught a glimse of the barn and the nearest neighbor's house, so I was able to assume that it was yet north of their house. What I didn't know was if it was a house, a ravine, a tree row on fire. I panicked and frantically searched for the phone to call 911. I was the second caller in a couple of minutes to report a fire at this location. I decided it would be a good idea to drive up to make sure everything was under control and see if anyone was home, but in my hysteria I couldn't find my keys that I had JUST used less than an hour before. It was too cold to walk over with the two little ones and I couldn't leave them home, so I continued to search. Finally finding them, we all jumped in the Suburban and drove up.

What I saw next was horrifying. An entire house completely engulfed in flames. Another neighbor, (the one who called 911 first) was standing near the driveway. I jumped out and knocked on the door of the next house, but no one was home. I didn't have any phone numbers to call the family and the fire department had still not arrived. The only thing I could think to do was to call the school and ask for contact information which they readily gave me when I told them about the situation. The next two calls made were devastating. The first to Devon's mom, the next to his dad to tell them their house was on fire. We sat and watched the house continue to burn, watched the fire trucks start to come one by one until there were more than 10 of them in addition to all the volunteer fire fighters and paramedics who were on the scene. For another 30 minutes we watched, horrified at the rapid progression of the flames ingestion of the structure that used to be a home. There were animals inside that had perished.

By the time the fire was put out, it had been fought for more than 5 hours. The house in between the burning one and ours shielded ours from the massive smoke, but inside our home it still smelled like a BBQ joint, campsite and fireworks stand. The pile of rubble continued to smolder until it ignited again later in the night bringing more fire fighters back out. The fire was out, but the ashes smoldered for days. This family of 5 (husband, wife, two kids and grandma) had gone in the morning and had nothing by mid-morning to come home to.

Our day was filled with emotion. The days to come, filled with grief and at the same time, thanksgiving that it was not our home that was gone. Today, the family is in a temporary home in Lincoln, with furnishings that were donated. The cause of the fire has still not been determined. There have been curious strangers driving up to the house to see for themselves the devestation and even some heartless ones that have pilfered through the ashes to see if there are any undiscovered remnants. The family plans to rebuild, and hopefully will be able to restore not only a structure, but their spirit as well.