stove in the Barry’s kitchen where the fire started (above)
Up until a few days ago, Kathy Barry (like many others) saw the American Red Cross as an organization that stepped in to help in the face of astronomically devastating disasters. The kinds that claim hundreds of lives and plaster the front pages of newspapers for weeks. Needless to say, she was surprised to see Red Cross Volunteers show up on the evening of Tuesday, October 9th as her house was caught in flames.
I came by the following afternoon (Wednesday October 10th) to do an interview with the Barry’s. It was a beautifully breezy day and by the smile on Kathy and Tony’s faces as they welcomed me into their partially burned home, you would never have known what they had so recently been through.
“Well I wanted to cook a good meal for Tony,” Kathy told me, nodding towards her husband. “He was away for work and coming home today. So, I made some chicken on the stove and walked out to feed the animals. When I came back close to the house I heard the smoke alarm going off. I opened the door and smoke just hit me in the face. I couldn’t see any flames yet, but that’s when I just knew it was going to be bad.”
Kathy looked over towards the charred kitchen shaking her head. “I really remember turning the stove off,” she said with a look of certainty.
After opening the door to a smoke filled house, Kathy ran around to call 9-1-1 and that is when she saw flames eating through the side of the kitchen wall and smoke billowing out of the roof.
“It felt like ages for the fire department to arrive. Of course, I’m sure it wasn’t very long.” Kathy explains how time goes by remarkably slowly when you are waiting for relief in the midst of chaos.“I was just hoping they could save everything, and so grateful my granddaughter wasn’t home,” she went on.
In regards to the Red Cross volunteers’ involvement, Kathy concedes that the situation would have been very different without their presence. “Would have been missing the comfort feeling. The firefighters were good and nice but it was a comfort to know that [the Red Cross] was there for me. I was very impressed by both responders; how attentive they were to me, sensitive to my needs and what my needs would be the next few days.”
Tony nodded in agreement with Kathy’s sentiments commenting that “in a time like this any kind of help is valuable.”
“I’m just worried about how I’m going to clean everything. We are simple people. Try to live simply and be happy, nothing fancy. Never expect something like this to happen to you,” Kathy remarked.
“There is never a good time for something like this to happen,” Tony added.
The Barry’s expect it will be a few months before they can get their house back to normal. But with such an optimistic and grateful attitude, it seems to me they are well on their way.
Tony and the Barry’s dog, Sissy (above)
-Hayley Jones, Emergency Services Intern