I would normally post something like this sooner, but the last few days have been insane. This summer has been pretty hot for the entire United States. It has also been dry as well. I'm not sure how important all this background is, but on Sunday, it cooled down enough that my Sister's family decided to stay up late and have a family movie night. Right in the middle of The Goonies, everyone in her family was in the living room, either outright asleep or dozing.
Suddenly there was a loud pop, and all of the smoke alarms in the house went off. As the house filled with smoke, my Sister got the dogs on leashes and her and the kids all got out safe. That's really the important part - everyone, including the pets, got out safe.
Then their house burned. The fire damage was pretty much contained to the second floor, though some bedrooms on the second floor were totally destroyed. I don't want to scare anyone, but if there hadn't been a family movie night, this would have been a totally different story. The rest of the house suffered extensive (or complete) smoke and water damage. Some of the kids lost everything they owned in the fire.
Luckily (on a relative scale), I'd been checking the scanner feed before going to bed and noticed the address. My Sister didn't have a phone, so couldn't call us right away. No big deal, we were there and got the kids over at our house eventually. There was smoke from the fire more than a mile away. Blah blah blah, the family had lots of help from friends, strangers, church groups, and more family. They're hardly living the high life, but life is continuing.
Not everyone in this world is so helpful. After the flames died and the firefighters left, the house was broken into at least twice. Yup. Remember when I said all the kids got out safe? They did, but they had to physically stop the youngest one from going back in to rescue his Transformer toy. It was on the first floor and though it undoubtedly smelled like smoke, it likely survived the fire. It didn't survive the thieves though. It's gone. Luckily, uncle Jimmy was a fan of the show back in the 80's, and in place of an Ironhide transformer from the new movies, my nephew got a brand-new Pepsi Optimus Prime. We also spent a couple days watching old Transformer cartoons on DVD as well.
So, on the one hand, I'm happy that most of the people were extremely helpful. On the other, I hope the people who broke in and stole kids toys (among other things) got life-threatening lung infections from the smoke and are now dying. Not that I'm bitter or anything.