Damn! Rhonda’s gone.

If you are looking for a surreal experience, try this one:  imagine being woken up from a deep sleep on the night before you are to leave for a race, by your wife, who is equally dazed from a quick awakening.

Stumble over to your window, the big one that looks out onto the yard, and gaze out of it.  Take a moment for your brain to comprehend the fact that you are looking out on the warm glow of a car fire.

Now, spring to action: grab a set of car keys – any one – and run out of your house.  Don’t worry about your pyjamas or clothes, you are not wearing any, and as you near the three vehicles parked side by side by side, feel your bare feet sink to the ankles in slush.   As you jump into the truck to move it and turn the key, you wonder if it’s really a good idea to do this.  Will it explode?  How melted are the wires in your engine from sitting so close to the burning car?  No matter: it’s started.  Drive the truck a safe distance away (if the car’s gas tank explodes, what is considered a safe distance?) and then run back in the house for the set of keys for the other car.

You now hear your wife on the phone to the fire department.

FD (presumably): “What is the emergency?”

Jenn: “There is a car burning in our driveway.”

FD (presumably): “How do we get there?”

Jenn: “Do you still have the big, red truck?”

Then, because you expect the fire department will arrive shortly, you pull on a pair of pants and a shirt, stuff your feet into a pair of boots and dash back outside to move the other car.  Making sure to not block the access to your laneway, you drive all the way to your neighbours house, whose driveway you share to get to the highway, and park out of the way.  You think.

Now, you wait.  And wait.  The car is past being saved – a long time ago – and you are just watching the flames die down.  There is nothing of value in the car, so really, you’re only out a ‘work beater’, a little grocery getter that you paid very little for in the first place.  Presently, a bright light begins to make it’s way up your driveway and the dogs decide that this would be the best time to start barking.  They don’t alert you to the blaze, neither does your house dog, but as soon as help arrives, they’re all about sounding the alarm.  

“Sorry for the delay.  We couldn’t find your house.” says one of the firefighters.  You feel like saying “Did you look for the one with the flames in the front yard?” but you don’t, because it’s now 3am and you know that everyone of the dozen or so people milling around were awoken from a sound sleep, just like you were having, to come and deal with your problem.

They douse what is left of the fire, one of them comes to take a statement and then they’re gone, leaving you to take stock of the damage. 

In all of this, the biggest disappointment is that your passenger door on the truck – the vehicle you need the most right now – won’t latch, so you can’t even go to your race.

The firefighters were great and very helpful.  I was only kidding about Jenn’s reply to the dispatcher asking where we live.

The Damage:

Rhonda the Honda:

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This is during the final moments of the fire before the Fire Department came.

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The burned-out wreck the morning after. 

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The front seat, as taken from the hood of the car.  Anything that could have burned did, including the glass, which typically melts at about 1500 degrees Celcius. 

The Ford Focus:

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The rear door handle.  Somewhat melted, but not too bad.  Still, it’s fused together and can’t be opened from the outside.

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The driver’s side mirror.  Melted, but usable. 

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Driver’s door handle.  More melted than the rear one and even more fused.  Can’t be opened from the outside and it is the only keyhole on the car, with the exception of the trunk, so don’t lock the doors unless you have the remote.

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Rear driver’s side bumper.  As you’d expect in a recent model car, it’s plastic and it melted like a milk jug.

The Truck:

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The passenger side wheel well.  The plastic trim has melted and pulled away from the body.  Amazingly, the tires don’t seem to have sustained any damage.

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Passenger side of the box.  The paint has been heated to the point of separation from the body.  It’s all bubbled and cracked along the side of the truck.  Also, the plastic of our bed liner has been damaged by the intense heat.

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Passenger side mirror.  Melted.

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Passenger side rear door.  The paint was heated and began to peel off.  The door handle is non-existant, but for a congealed mass of plastic.

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The door handle, trim and running board were badly damaged by the heat.

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Incredibly enough, this is the only damage to the dogbox: smoke stained paint.  Even though it was directly above some the of hottest parts of the fire and it is made of wood and filled with straw, it escaped all but the most trivial of damages.