|Posted on June 12, 2019 at 7:45 PM|
A FIRE AT THE DOLE RESIDENCE
“Holy shit!” The woman dropped her sponge and plate into the porcelain sink. As she jolted towards the back door, she reacted internally to the sound of the dish breaking, but only long enough to think, Fuck! And then she forgot about it immediately. But it makes perfect sense, because she really didn’t have time to worry about anything else; there was a perfectly-shaped circle of fire, about thirty or maybe forty feet in height which had spontaneously appeared upon the grass outside of her kitchen window when there had been nothing there less than a minute ago. She reached the door attached to the kitchen, which leads outside to the porch; she jolted down the three steps, before hitting the lawn with her right foot, and segued into a full sprint towards the barn, which is about fifty yards from the house and over to the right side of the property’s rear. She called out to her husband: “There’s a goddamn fire in the yard!”
The sound of power tools came to a halt. “What? What the hell are you talkin’ ‘bout?”
“Get out here! There’s a fuckin’ fire on the lawn!”
It did not take long for the man to appear at the barn’s entrance. The woman had transitioned into a jog when she saw him, which only lasted for a few steps before she stopped. She was looking at her husband with wide eyes, as did her husband when he arrived at the front entrance of the barn. The look on her face, plus the fact that she cursed (which she seldom did) assured him that she was not joking. That would be quite a cruel joke to play, and the woman’s sense of humor was nothing of that sort. He then looked up to the right, over towards the left side of the house, and when he saw flames he thought, Goddamn, she ain’t kiddin’…
The man started to run again while simultaneously staring at the site of the burning and the look on his face was now bewildered; he’d seen plenty of brush, house and barn fires in his life, but nothing like this. By the time he reached the woman, she turned and led after him. Both were running towards the house. They entered and he picked up the phone, entering only a few numbers on the dial...
“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” A female voice finally appeared after waiting for what seemed like minutes, though it was really only a couple rings before they connected.
“Hi ma’am, my name is Ned Dole− I live on the 191 in Lebanon and I’d like to, uh− report a fire.”
“Okay sir, I’m gonna need the exact address...” He gave it to her. There was a pause.
“Okay Mr. Dole, the Volunteer Fire Department in Lebanon will be there in about twelve minutes. Where is the fire happening exactly? Is it your house? Your barn?”
“It’s on my lawn. And it’s shaped perfectly in a circle. The flames are shootin’ up about fifty feet in the air and I don’t know how in the hell it started or why it’s burning like this, it’s not spreadin’ or nothin’. It’s just settin’ there.”
“Okay sir, just hold tight. In the meantime please go to your driveway immediately so that you can direct the firemen towards the fire and assist them with whatever they may need as soon as they arrive.”
“Okay.” Ned hung up and turned to his wife.
“Says they’re gonna be here in ten minutes or so. There ain’t much we can do but it’s worth trying to get a head start.” With a look of submission, she nodded quickly; she was prepared to help in any way she could, and once again followed Ned as he departed the house.
He walked quickly to the spigot on the side of the house, just under the window which his wife looked out of just moments ago. He cranked the faucet quickly, grabbed the hose, and started to aim toward the bottom of the closest flames; his father had taught him to aim at the bright embers located at the bottom of a fire in order to put it out effectively, so instinctively that is what he did. He also held his thumb over the end of the hose, to increase the velocity of the water as it exited the hose.
“Sweetheart, go to the driveway.” She turned and began jogging toward the road. “And when the firemen get here, they can either park on the street or the driveway. Or have ‘em bring the rig right over here if they need to, whatever they think is best.”
“Okay,” she called back behind her, and continued her way. The next ten minutes went by very slowly for the both of them.
Ned was able to clear a very small section of the fire with the hose, but it wasn’t much if you were to compare it to the rest. With the hose alone, it would have taken probably days to put this shit out, if it don’t spread, he thought. Thank God for the Lebanon F.D., but I hope they get here sooner than later...
He knew he wasn’t contributing much to extinguishing the fire, but he wasn’t the type to just stand by and watch until the firemen arrived. One of his father’s most-said sayings had entered his head; ‘Well, stop reacting and take action, goddammit!’
The firetruck arrived 14 minutes after Ned hung up the phone with the 9-1-1 dispatcher. The firemen didn’t seem to be in too much of a rush, especially since there weren’t any buildings burning down. They too have also seen their share of fires, as you could imagine, and this was much easier to contain than a house or barn fire, they knew. Ned heard the sirens as they approached, and saw that all the firemen had now departed the truck. His wife gave directions to the fire by pointing towards the site, and Ned watched as one of them controlled the water pressure valves, while the rest of them teamed up to pull the hose towards the side of the house. As they started to approach Ned, with garden hose still-in-hand, a fireman walked over to him and left the other men to start working. He asked Ned, with a friendly smile, “Well, what’s happened here?”
“Don’t know,” Ned replied while shrugging. “My wife was doing the dishes in the house, I was in the barn...” He pointed to the barn behind him. “And all of a sudden my wife came runnin’ outside calling for me. Said there was a fire on the lawn. Neither of us have a clue as to how the shit started, though.” The fireman nodded, assured Ned that the fire would be taken care of, and walked towards the flames and began to help the rest of the volunteers. It took them about 3 hours to put the fire out completely, or at least to the point where they could start their investigation, but smoke was still present. No flames though, which is good enough, Ned thought. If anything starts burnin’ up again the hose should be able to take care of it from here, I hope…
The firemen kept busy with their work during the duration of the extinguishing, leaving Ned and his wife to discuss how they were going to “patch up” the land after the fire was put out. It wasn’t until after the fire was comfortably controlled enough for the firemen to take a quick gander around the fire site, and the same fireman who had asked Ned how it had started was now approaching him again.
“If y’all didn’t start this and don’t know how it got started, then I’d say somebody else must’ve had to. Fires, around here at least, don’t just start up on their own without some sort of explanation.” The fireman stared off into the distance with a look of deep contemplation for a moment. “And we can’t really say for sure how this one started. It’s very unusual how it burnt so perfectly in a circular shape, and the fact that it didn’t spread at all is very intriguing.”
“That’s exactly what I told the 9-1-1 dispatch,” Ned replied.
“So we’re goin’ to take some photos of the site and continue our investigation, the photos will be crucial in helping us do so. If anyone else started this, kids or somethin’, then obviously we’d like for you to have your justice, but I’ll just say it again: If y’all didn’t start this, then someone else must have. I’m certain of it. Because there’s no way fires just start themselves, unless by lightning.” The fireman stopped talking and looked up at the nearly cloudless sky. “And I reckon with today’s weather, lighting is not a factor, and we can eliminate that as a cause. Other than that, I don’t know of any other naturally occurin’ causes, to be straight with you.”
Ned nodded as he watched the firemen take their photos. He shook hands with each of the firemen when they had finished their job, thanked them for their service, and waved good-bye as they departed.
After her nerves had settled a bit, the woman cooked dinner for the two after the incident; Salisbury steaks, asparagus and baked potatoes. After the table was set with plates and silverware, she grabbed a PBR out of the fridge and set it near the top-right corner of Ned’s plate before she announced to him, “Supper’s ready!” He was in the living room, over toward the front side of the house, watching TV. She heard the chair’s recliner descend back into itself while she was grabbing a small carafe of lemon water off of the counter to bring to the kitchen table for herself. She didn’t like alcohol− she had no problem with Ned drinking, but she didn’t need alcohol to have fun; ‘plus, I don’t see any sort of benefit from it, honestly,' she told Ned the first night they met.
The couple ate in silence for a couple minutes, but the silence made the woman uncomfortable. She looked up at Ned and began to make conversation: “What do you think was the cause?” Ned looked up, then back down. He had already begun to shovel a fork-full from his potato, then stopped. He raised his head again, glancing towards the window above the sink.
“I really don’t know,” he confessed. “There’s no way either of us started it, that’s for damn sure. And one of the firemen told me that it could’ve been a kid or something, but I’m havin’ a hard time believin’ that. I can’t imagine some kid from town comin’ up here just to fuck with us, or any other people’s shit. It’s a real small town, after all, and the kids around here know that.” His wife had now also stopped eating and was also glancing towards the window.
“You know, I was thinkin’ it could’ve been a meteorite or somethin’ like that, but I didn’t hear nothin’ and I didn’t feel the house shake either. I just looked up and it was there. And I could hear you workin’ in the barn, even from inside the house, so I know you wasn’t outside or nothin’…
“I just can’t believe that a fire could just start burnin’ up like that on it’s own, let alone shaped in a circle, without spreadin’,” she added.
“I know, Viv. I’ve been thinkin’ the same thing.” There was a pause, and they both continued to eat.
“Nothin’ to do now except patch the land up the best we can. Maybe dig up the burnt grass up and replant some seed there...”
After dinner, Ned and Viv migrated to the living room to watch a movie before retiring for the night. During the movie, Ned would get up to walk to the kitchen and check outside the window every 15 minutes or so, Just to be safe. If it started on its own once, what says it can’t start up on its own again?…
They had also received a phone call that night. When the phone rang, Viv paused the movie while Ned answered the call and said something along the lines of: “Hello?… Yep… Yeah, we’re alright… No idea how it started, no… How’d you hear?... Ah, gotcha... Yeah, it’s pretty crazy alright… Well thanks for checkin’ in on us, we really appreciate it, man... Sure, you can come on by tomorrow and take a look if ya want, I should be home most of the day… Sure, anytime will do… Okay, thanks again, I’ll see ya tomorrow.”
Ned’s thoughts about the fire were correct. It was indeed not caused by any person, and the fire had combusted spontaneously. It was of no person’s fault. But still, many questions were still left unanswered, leaving the Doles to ponder this strange occurrence that took place on the side of their home. The Lebanon Volunteer Fire Department is a good organization when it comes to extinguishing fires, but when it comes to investigations, not so much. They’ve always put them out dauntlessly for the 200+ citizens of Lebanon over the years, but they happened to made a mistake as they wandered around the site at the Dole residence that day. They seemed to have overlooked the small hole in the ground at the very center of the site of the fire. The hole was about the size of a golf cup, the hole that you putt into, and sure it didn’t look like much to anyone (because either no one had seen it, or it had been overlooked without suspicion), but it would show something when discovered the next day.