When my dear friend Sandra Wills Hannon and I met for lunch the other day in Maryland, we had a lot of catching up to do. We hadn’t seen each other in 11 years, largely because I’d relocated to another part of the country. I knew we’d cover the topics of marriage, career, and aging parents, but I had no idea that a major fire would be part of the conversation.
Sandra told me that in 2007, her lovely three-bedroom home in Fort Washington, Maryland, with the two-tier foyer that I always admired, caught on fire. She was cooking dinner when she noticed smoke coming from the laundry room. On further inspection she realized the smoke’s origin was the two-car garage. Incredibly, one of the cars was revving, although no one was in it. Sandra slammed the door leading to the garage shut, and following the family home escape plan, yelled for her two daughters who were home at the time—including Madison, pictured below with her parents—to get out, grabbed the cell phone and left. Husband, Kevin, and another daughter were at work.
Sandra called 9-1-1 from across the street once she joined the girls at the designated meeting place. The garage burned down and the two cars inside were destroyed. The patio and the master bedroom were consumed. The fire would have been more damaging if not for the home fire sprinkler system. The rest of the home remained intact.
Sandra said after firefighters knocked down the blaze, they complimented her because they were able to enter the house through the patio doors. They said people often block those doors with stored items, which leaves the fire department no choice but to break the doors down and delays entry to the home.
The Hannons were out of their house for eight months while the rebuilding was taking place. If they’re unlucky enough to have another one of their cars experience wiring problems, they’ll be ready. During the reconstruction, they had a sprinkler system added to the garage.
I was proud that my dear friend knew exactly what to do in a fire emergency and riveted as she told her story. It made our reunion lunch all the more special.