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The smoke could be seen for blocks, rising higher and thicker by the minute. As Pumper 12 rounded the corner, Goober could see the smoke boiling from the rear of the house.
Before the truck came to a full stop, she was on the radio, “Pumper 12 on scene, heavy smoke showing. Second-in truck take the hydrant on the corner.”
Tunney jumped out of the passenger side and ran around the truck as Goober set the brake and put the pump in gear.
Goober pointed to a rack of hose, “Pull that hose and stretch it out to the house.” Tunney jumped to it and Goober turned to the homeowner, crying on the curb.
“Ma’am,” She said, laying a hand on the woman’s shoulder, “Is everybody out?”
“No!” The woman sobbed, “My baby!”
Goober’s chest clenched.
“How old is the baby?”
“Six months.” The hysterical woman cried on Goober’s shoulder, “Please get him out!”
“Ok, just relax.”
Goober turned away and grabbed Tunney by the collar. She pulled him away from the on-lookers that had gathered with the homeowner.
“We need to go in.” Goober took in the widening of his eyes as she said it. “I know you’ve only had your initial training, so I need to know: can you do this?”
“What about the other trucks coming?”
“There’s no time. Can you do this?”
“Sure!” Tunney squared his shoulders and took a deep breath.
“Ok, put your air pack on.” Goober went to the other side of the truck to get her own air pack.
Just then, Dave rushed up to Goober. He was a Deputy Sheriff that was also on the fire dept.
“What do you need me to do?” He asked, breathlessly.
“Go around to the back, pull the electric meter and turn off the gas.” Goober said as she shrugged on the pack. “Then come back around to the front door and feed us hose.”|
“You’re going in?” Dave was incredulous.
“No time!” Goober shrugged past him and went to Tunney who was struggling with the straps on his pack.
Tunney nodded. Her chest hurt.
“Alright, listen up.” Goober pulled his straps tighter and turned on the air bottle. “We are going to keep the wall on our right shoulder. If you get into trouble, just follow the hose. It will lead you out. Understand?”
“Follow the hose, wall on the right.” Tunney pulled on his mask and tightened the straps.
“Hold onto my pants leg. Don’t let go.”
“Hold onto your leg, got it.”
Goober finished up putting on her pack and opened the valve to charge the hose with water.
Leading Tunney to the door, they clicked on their air. Taking a deep breath opened the diaphragm and cool air rushed onto her face. Then she flung the door open, nozzle ready.
To her surprise, the living room was fairly clear of smoke. A thick layer hung from the ceiling, but the floor was clear for a few feet.
“Let’s go.” Goober’s voice was muffled in her mask. They crawled into the living room and quickly looked around. No baby. The kitchen was open to the living room, no baby there, either.
Starting down the hall, Goober noticed that the smoke was getting thicker and dropping lower.
The first door led to a sewing room, clear of smoke, but no baby. Goober backed out and led Tunney further down the passageway. The next door was the bathroom, it was clear. Where was that baby?
When Goober opened the door to the next room, thick smoke poured out.
She pulled her mask close to Tunney’s ear. “You ok?”
“Stay here by the door!” Goober had to yell to be heard thru the mask. She crawled into the room, feeling her way around the walls.
Furniture was getting in the way. A chair. A table and lamp. Then a bed. All this was done by feel. The smoke was so thick, she couldn’t see.
Every once in a while, she would stop and listen carefully, not breathing. Listening for the slightest sound. All she heard was Tunney breathing loudly at the door.
Just as she was around the whole room, Goober put her hand on a squirming bundle.
She grabbed it up and finished following the wall to the door.
“Got it!” Goober shouted, “Let’s get out of here!”
Tunney turned around on the hose and started to crawl back. Goober waited for him to make room, and became fascinated with the little flames flickering in the smoke in front of her face.
Flashover twinkled thru her mind.
She hadn’t noticed that the heat was getting oppressive, almost pushing them to the floor. Goober got Tunney’s attention and handed him the bundle.
Picking up the nozzle, Goober quickly opened it, then closed it just as quickly. And again, open/close. Once more, open/close. Nozzle aimed at the ceiling.
Steam fell on them like a thick blanket. The heat eased up for a moment, then came back, full force.
Not a good sign.
“Faster!” Goober yelled. Dropping the nozzle, she started crawling toward the door. When she caught up to Tunney, she put her head down and prodded him in the rear and pushed him along the hose with her helmet.
Sunlight blinded them both just as flames shot out the doorway as everything in the house burst into flames.
Hands grabbed the squirming bundle out of Tunney’s hands and pulled them both away from the house.
More hands helped her get her mask and air pack off. Gasping for air, she blinked and looked around.
Tunney was sitting on the ground, beside her, gasping as well. Grey hair plastered to his head.
Firefighters were working on the bundle she had brought out.
Shrugging out of her jacket, she noticed that there were several firefighters now. The Chief was standing by his Command Vehicle, barking orders on the radio. Several fire trucks were there, too, putting the ‘wet stuff on the red stuff’ as they like to put it.
“Hey, Goober!” One of the firefighters called out.
“Yeah?” She did not feel like getting up right at that moment.
“Here is your baby!” The firefighter opened up the blanket and a brown puppy with bright black eyes peeked out.
The homeowner rushed up to him, laughing in relief. “Baby! Oh, my baby! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Goober flopped onto her back and stared up at the sky.
“Baby?” She thought to herself, “Oh, baby!”
Tunney started chuckling. Then guffawing.
“I suppose that means that you are alright?” Goober growled.
“Yeah.” Tunney wiped his nose with the back of his hand. “That was something!”
“It sure was.” Goober patted his back. “Good job, Rookie.”
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