Last night I got home from the grocery store, all set to make chicken fajitas. I wondered why my husband wasn’t home yet. I knew he went to check on our business. Just then my phone rang.
“Jen, I’m going to be late for dinner. There’s been a fire, and it’s going to be awhile.”
I fed the dog and rushed out of the house. I arrived in the parking lot ten minutes later. There were three extra long fire trucks, lights flashing. It was difficult to maneuver in the crowded lot.
At least fifteen firefighters were in our store. The ceiling panels were knocked out and wires hung from the rafters. But nothing looked charred, except for the insulation that came down with the panels.
In the chaos, I couldn’t see my husband. A firefighter told me he was in the back. I needed to go through the shop next door, to stay out of the way. I found him, looking sweaty, dusty, and in disbelief.
“I came in here to check on things, like I always do. It was fine, so I left. But I forgot my sunglasses, so had to come back. That’s when I smelled smoke. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I went into the back room, looked up, and saw an orange glow. I called 911 right away.”
Thank God he forgot his sunglasses and had to go back.
We don’t have to be at our business full time. We check on it every day, but at different times. It was a miracle he was there at that moment.
I don’t even want to think about what would’ve happened if he wasn’t. The entire strip mall could’ve been on fire. But because my husband was there, at the right time, it was knocked out quickly. Nothing burned except for ceiling insulation. No one was hurt.
It was a huge mess. The firefighters removed all the ceiling tiles and singed insulation, and dumped it in the back. My husband and I were left with a very dusty, dirty store with the smell of smoke hanging in the air. The cause couldn’t be determined. Possibly electric.
We wiped grime off surfaces and swept the floor as best we could. It was dark. The firefighters had recommended we turn off the power.
We were touched by all the people who stopped by, genuinely concerned about us and our business. We’ve been in the neighborhood for years.
We are so fortunate.
That my husband happened to be there.
For the firefighters.
For our concerned customers, our strip mall neighbors, and people we don’t know, who stopped to talk and offer their condolences.
It’s going to be a hectic day, as we get ready to reopen. Tonight we’re planning to relax. I’ll make those chicken fajitas and watch the convention. Just like we were going to last night.
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