Loosely based on real events
“Many fires are started by firefighters. They feel the need to experience being a hero and saving lives so they decide to take it into their own hands.”
I usually don’t pay much attention to the crime fighting TV show that my family sits down to watch every night but today’s opening line caught my attention. As the show delved into a case of a firefighter who set off fires in his hometown, I remember something that I had experienced as a child. If I focused hard enough, I could still smell the smoke in the air and the kid shoes on my feet.
- A person who fights fires.
Tall men and women in hefty uniforms. I would watch them with my father with wonder and admiration as they exited the big red engine into the smoking building. They emerged victorious as they got the uncontrollable element under their fist. Their extinguishers posed and ready to fight against the raging heat.
I was nine and dressed in Disney pajamas as the apartment I lived in was evacuated. The gated community of Palms Colony had been shaken awake in the middle of the night with the shrieking fire alarm. The house above mine was on fire and we had to leave immediately. There was panic, fear and uncertainty. My heart hammered as I struggled to find my parents, who were disappearing among the masses of people running towards the street.
No one could hear me.
People were rushing outside. My voice drowned in the chaos.
“Hey, kid? You looking for someone?”
A firefighter, already dressed and ready to run into the fire. His name tag was a number, 3465.
I nodded and he guided me to the tent where my worried parents were waiting. I thanked 3465, whose face was still hidden behind the helmet. He nodded and sprinted into the building. I watched his back disappear into the smoke that people were running away from. He looked like an angel of death, only a silhouette was seen.
An explosion. Screaming and panic. Shards of glass scattered on the concrete. Pieces of clothing and someone’s fur coat was falling from the sky like a twisted metaphor about rain. Smoke covered the night sky like a blanket. I wandered closer to a tag that had fallen from the building that was completely destroyed now. It had a number on it. 3465.
- A person who enjoys fires.
This was the fifth fire in the last week. No deaths and minimal injuries in all the situations. Firefighters emerging as heros against a simple, tame fire. Journalists joked about how the fire department just needed some PR to help raise funds. Cops laughed but kept their eyes open for more friendly fires.
“Fire on Lowell Street. I repeat, fire on Lowell Street!”
Three fire engines sped off towards the church that was already smoking. Its patrons had escaped but the element raged on, destroying the pews and the heavy gold cross at the altar.
He jumped out of the engine, extinguisher ready to work. He pulled the helmet over his eyes and ran inside the smoke and chaos. In an ironic twist, the inside of the church looked like the very thing they feared. The walls were blood red and the heat was enough to kill, and it could have. As he searched for people, he heard a small cry. A young girl, barely 10, covered in burns. He grabbed her and ran outside, covering her body with his uniform. “I have someone! Here!”
The ambulance sped away with the young girl, her parents were sobbing and thanking him. He smiled and muttered something about duty. It was all in a day’s work.
“Good job today, go home and take some rest.” The fire captain thanked our team and dismissed us. The fireman grabbed his bags and headed to his car. HIs heart was racing, adrenaline pumping from the events of the day.
His ex had given him a copy of her old apartment’s key a while back but she had moved out and moved on. So he took a turn off the highway and entered the gated community. It was late now, nearly 11 PM. He grabbed a container of petroleum and matchbox from his trunk and headed upstairs, taking the steps three at a time. He entered the house with his key and dumped it in the trash. The petroleum lines he drew were shaped like flowers. The fire followed the oil closely, clinging onto the curtains and sheets that covered the remaining furniture. His eyes were as angry as the fire. Satisfied with the damage, he sprinted down the stairs into his car and drove off, the fire behind him consuming the house.
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“There’s a fire in the Palms Colony Apartments. We need you, can you be there?”
“Will be there. Let’s save some lives.”