When we got there we were pretty much the first ones on the scene besides the neighbors next door to the house in flames.
I ran up the driveway towards the open living room sliding door. Smoke was pouring out and a wall of flames blowing towards me stopped me in my tracks. I still have this image in my head of a wooden chair in the front living room outlined in flames.
The neighbor in the home to the front handed me a hose but it was like a squirt gun against a blast furnace. Items in and about the home were beginning to explode. Glass was breaking everywhere from the heat. An aluminum framed glass canopy above me was beginning to break overhead. I began to yell above the roar of the burning structure in my limited Japanese, “Danger! Let’s go – let’s go!”
I ran around the front of the building to the other side. The house next door was quickly becoming in danger of being the next victim. I grabbed a hose and tried to get enough water going to at least slow the advancing flames. I looked over between the buildings to see three propane tanks. “I gotta get out of here…”, I thought to my self.
The neighbor was behind me. “Anything you need you had better get it out of here” a yelled in English. I realized just how pointless that was… To my surprise the lady ran in, grabbed a few things and handed them to me. I ran them to the road and returned. She handed me a few more items. I said, “Ok, that’s it!” In Japanese I said, “Danger, Danger! – Let’s go!”.
The neighbor in the front house was trying to help. I pointed to her car and motioned to get it out of there quick. I said in Japanese, “Key – Key!” I motioned to get the car out of there as fast as she could. She grabbed her keys and moved the car out and across the street.
Belinda was with the owner of the burning house, her neighbor and her son. She was holding them and I could tell she was praying. By then several neighbors were on their cell phones and I could hear fire trucks approaching.
Everyone in the effected homes were out of their homes and standing in the street. The fire trucks and crew were setting up. That is when I ran back to the house to grab my camera. I think they tell most of the rest of the story.