Both girls had vacation jobs at our local pub and, on this particular day, had just returned from their evening shift. During that very fine, dry day, I had observed that a neighbour had lit a bonfire to burn his garden rubbish. When my younger daughter went up to bed, she shouted down to us that the neighbour's hedge appeared to be on fire. My elder daughter and I looked out and saw that flames from the bonfire had, indeed, reached out to the hedge and were fast approaching my near neighbours' garden and our own.
We immediately contacted the fire brigade, and woke up our elderly near neighbours, who had already retired for the night. My elder daughter ran to the neighbour's house where the fire was, but no-one was home. While we were waiting for the firemen to arrive, we decided to make up a human chain with buckets of water to try and stop the fire encroaching into our houses and gardens. The fire was really crackling by now. Everything was incredibly dry, and the fire moved like lightening along the hedge. We asked another neighbour for help as my elderly neighbours were unable to lift the buckets. It was very dark and as our houses were off the beaten track, we sent one of our elderly neighbours off in her dressing gown, carrying a torch, to guide the firemen towards our homes.
While the four of us were racing around with the buckets of water, we heard the fire engine approaching. The fire engine arrived in our neighbours' driveway and as it pulled in, the firemen were already jumping out. However, in their haste, the driver hadn't pulled on the handbrake and the engine rolled slowly forward towards the flames. There were several screams (mainly from my throat) and one of the firemen climbed quickly back on board and brought the engine to a halt. After that slight hiatus, the fire was quickly put out. We looked a very bedraggled bunch; we were wet, tired and smelt heavily of burning rubbish. My elder daughter's legs were shred to pieces from running through the field with the water buckets. Into this scene came the neighbour and his wife, returning from a night out, rather tiddly, wearing finery for a Ball. They couldn't believe their eyes. He had thought that he had dampened down the fire sufficiently to leave it. He was covered in embarrassment.
After clearing up the hose pipe and buckets, we said goodnight to all our neighbours and once indoors, my younger daughter went off to bed and my elder daughter and I made ourselves a drink and, as it was a warm night, went to sit out on our balcony that overlooked the scene of the
crime fire. Just then, there was a crack of thunder and the heavens opened up with the heaviest downfall of rain we had seen for weeks. We both laughed loudly.
If only it had rained a couple of hours earlier, maybe I wouldn't have had this story to tell and be able to join in with Sian's Storytelling Sunday. The theme this month is 'a dark and stormy night'. Well, it was certainly dark and the storm clouds brewed for a long time between my elderly neighbours and the one's where the fire started but, maybe, that's a story for another time...