Last Tuesday evening, a fire consumed a house located on Dartmouth Drive. I was out delivering papers to the various places they are available for sale when I heard the sirens. As I left the parking lot at the library, police cars went screaming by, so naturally, I followed them. When I arrived the house was an orange raging ball of flame. At the time, no fire trucks were present, so I knew this was a very recent blaze.
Unfortunately, breaking a cardinal rule of journalism, I didn’t have my camera with me. So I sped back to the office and then followed a truck from Engine House 1 back to the scene. By the time I arrived, three other fire trucks had also arrived and began spraying water on the house.
As I stood there, taking some video and photos, I overheard some of the residents of the house talking to fire fighters. Its always an emotional scene at a fire because someone’s whole life is going up in flames. You can’t help but stand there and think to yourself how horrible it would be if that were your house. Its easy to say, “Well at least no one was hurt” because, while that is very true, its not our belongings, memories, and essentials that are gone.
Which is why I was so moved when people began posting comments on our Facebook post asking how they could help the family. The community was quickly stepping up, offering to help some fellow O’Fallon residents in need.
We began asking for clothing sizes for the family and, as soon as we tracked them down, offered up our office as a drop off site. Its a small bonus of having an office in the community that I hadn’t even considered before this past week. We began collecting items on Thursday and received a fair amount. Not only were clothes donated but also basic household items like cups, pots and pans. and even some toys for the six-year-old boy who lived there.
A member of the family came and picked up the donations on Friday. He was very appreciative and wanted to express his thanks to everyone who cared so much for his family.
For us at the Weekly, it’s nice to experience a negative story about a house fire turn into one of community good will. Most of the time the media is there with a camera in your face during your worst moment and nowhere to be found later. So thank you O’Fallon for showing there is still some kindness and generosity in the world.