Altruism on Tilmus as neighbors help save a home
Letters to the Editor
A week ago, I was recovering from knee replacement at Lincoln County Transitional Care Center in Davenport. The procedure had been done at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. I experienced a reaction with unexpected outcomes that delayed my return home, so it was great to finally leave Davenport for my home of 30 years in Coulee Dam. I was only home a short while as I traveled regularly to Spokane to consult with my orthopaedist. I had no idea what was about to happen last week.
Much of my time since coming home has been spent either resting or doing physical therapy exercises. As I watched TV from my LazyBoy Wednesday night, the doorbell suddenly rang. This was highly unusual for the late hour, and for a few moments I intended to disregard it, thinking my wife Rosie could get to the door sooner than I. The chime rang again followed by a frantic rapping as I struggled to get up and get my hands on my walker. I turned the front porch light on and saw a young fellow out there with a water hose. When I got the storm door open, he stated, “We’re spraying your roof to keep it from catching fire, the house next door is burning.” Right behind this young man was another whom I recognized as Daniel Loch who had mowed our lawn a few years ago. Daniel was asking, “Do you have another hose?”
I glanced next door as the fire escalated, and my cedar fence had just started burning. I expressed my thanks and asked, “Where is the Fire Department?” The first young man turned out to be Daniel’s brother Nathan Loch who responded, “They’re on the way.” I told Daniel that my other hose was in our detached garage, but I couldn’t help because I had just had knee surgery. I then noticed a crowd had gathered across the street, but I didn’t recognize anyone. Nathan instructed me to close the door to keep the water out so I made my way to the inside kitchen entry closer to the burning house.
The flames were now burning the roof and interior of the building next door. A shed near my fence was fully-engulfed. I was extremely worried as I stumbled almost falling twice. I had hope that fire trucks would arrive soon and there’d be nothing to worry about. The help from our wonderful young neighbors from down the street also boosted my hopes. After what seemed like 30-45 minutes, the fire trucks finally arrived. The actual time factor was much shorter. It looked uncertain for awhile as I continued to stumble around trying to decide what to grab before my escape … at this point everything and nothing seemed of value. My recent knee operation impeded my ability to move quickly, and I became confused and flustered. Without thinking, I abandoned my walker and almost fell again.
My initial move was to get some shoes on and clear the main entry way while checking the fire through the kitchen windows every few minutes. Working together, Rosie and I turned on all of our outdoor lights so the firemen could see our yard and driveway. Eventually the teams of fire fighters gained control, but adrenalin and stress had control of our systems and we couldn’t relax or rest. Sleep was pretty much out of the question.
As Thursday morning arrived, we felt genuinely grateful for such expert fire departments of our community and for altruistic young men like Nathan and Daniel. Mere “thanks!” cannot quite express how we feel about the assistance extended to us in what seemed imminent danger of losing our cherished home. You who came to our aid are all super heros, and today is a great day to live in Coulee Country. We’re genuinely thankful that altruism exists here on Tilmus Street and in our combined communities.
A huge blessing was the absence of wind. I had never previously thought of myself as being among the “frail elderly” as I continue to seek medical care and treatment. Rosie and I have always considered ourselves “survivors,” but this was a frightening experience.
God bless our home and everyone who helped. God bless Coulee Country and God Bless America!
Coulee Dam, WA 99116