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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Fire-fighter (10/05/06)

TITLE: Effort Changed A Life
By Annette Agnello


Nicholas had been a fire-fighter for over ten years and he could tell when things weren’t right. This fire took off too fast and burned too hot; someone had to have set this fire. It wasn’t the first one by a longshot. There had been a firebug setting fires all over the neighborhood. Once again he had to walk into danger; because of someone’s prank.

In the first year Nicholas worked for the fire department there had been a series of fires started by a couple of trouble teenagers, these fires had a ring of familiarity. There were three boys that had been kicked out of the shop class at the school for playing with fire they were still on probation, but they were still the most likely suspects. Several of the men in the department had noticed one or the other of the boys there while they were fighting the fires. They couldn’t prove it but the way he had heard the boys talking and laughing at the last fire Nick was pretty sure Steve was the culprit, but he wasn’t sure how to prove it.

For someone who just liked to watch fires burn a fire could be a beautiful thing. Steve liked to watch fires, he had been starting them for years off and on usually they were small fires and they usually burnt themselves out. Lately he had been going for something bigger. Tonight he had plans, beside the railroad tracks there was a lumber yard, that would make a good fire. Steve got a couple of cans of gas and a case of motor oil and sneaked past the man on duty to load the lumber for the customers. He had the twilight hour to spread the gas and oil around knowing the fire at night would be spectacular. He threw in a match and moved back to watch the festivities.

The fire got much bigger Than planed. Stack after stack of lumber was going up in flames. This fire wasn’t going out on its own. His friends had looked at the other fires, but all of them left this time. That is why this time Steve got caught. Nicholas and his co-workers had all that was needed to sew up Steve’s guilt. Unbeknownst to him there were surveillance cameras who had caught him in the act. There was enough evidence to convict him of arson and Steve got the anklet in a kind of house arrest allowing him to still go to school as he served out his time. In his case the firemen became policemen and nabbed the arsonist.

Something about the young criminal touched Nicholas’ heart. Yes, he should serve his time but he was to young to be written off as a criminal and a lost cause. Even in those early days he tried to reach Steve first offering to help with his schoolwork. Nicholas discovered his reading was on a very low level. It was surprising he had been such an efficient arsonist.

As he learned to read Stephen showed an amplitude for math. The more time that Nick spent with him the better Steven’s grades and attitude became. Nicholas, the fireman, actually put Stephen, the arsonist, through college. As a college graduate he ended up getting a job in the very lumberyard he had tried to burn down.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 10/15/06
What an amazing message! I would have loved to hear more detail on the arsonist's transformation, as well as the assistance of the firefighter. I also got thrown off for a bit when you changed your point of view. This is a wonderfully told story, however - one that truly inspired me!!
Kaylee Blake 10/16/06
I would have like to hear this story from just one person's view, rather than you just telling me what happened. It would give it much more details. Having siad that, its a great story with a lot of potential. Keep up the good work.