Wednesday January 2, 2013

I’d been to the Lee Price Chopper and Salmon Run Fish House and everything was in the house for New Year’s Eve. Snow was beginning, I was wisely hanging out in the living room watching "Pride and Prejudice." I heard a beeping. On the telly? Turned it off to find out. Beeping continued. I walked into my kitchen louder -- onto porch -- louder. "Oh," I thought "Must be the smoke detector for the basement."

I opened the basement door and smoke billowed up. I did not investigate. I called 911. They knew my address and name and said they’d be right there.

Two or three minutes later several cars including a police car arrived. A fireman asked me where the basement door was and where the turn-off button was for the oil burner. Two fire engines arrived with about seven uniformed firemen and one guy in a tan jacket and a green knit cap (Chucky Cardillo, the fire chief). There was dark smoke pouring out of the chimney into the snowy sky.

They opened the doors in my kitchen and a fireman in a gas mask with an oxygen cylinder on his back and a huge red fan plunged into the basement. The fire was soon out. I called Kimball Oli and they said a repairman would be there. He was Stanley, who called his wife to tell her he’d gotten to my house safely after a slow, snowy drive from Pittsfield, and got the furnace running and heat into the house.

My initial reaction was amusement. Everyone who came into my kitchen wiped their feet. When the fire was out, there were big smiles on everyone’s face -- firemen, police and repair guy. Then I was overwhelmed -- how quickly they came and how wonderful they all were -- and then, grateful.

NANCY F. NIRENBERG

Stockbridge