Tag

fire

West Chase House Fire

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This house, in the West Chase subdivision just outside of Wyndham, caught on fire Monday evening. Although the woman who lived there was badly burned (after safely escaping she went back in her burning house to save the family pet), there is an amazing story behind who pulled her out. This story just reaffirms my belief that there are no coincidences in life. Everything happens for a reason. A friend of mine, Rachel Rainer, took the photo at the left that ended up in the paper. Article via the Richmond Times-Dispatch (more photos from me follow the article at the bottom).

Two Henrico County advertising executives have emerged as the Samaritans who dashed into the burning inferno of a home to try to save a woman’s life Monday night.

“Thinking about it now, it all seems like a dream. I’d never in all my life pictured myself in this sort of life-and-death situation,” said Barry Martin, the first man inside a fully engaged house fire in the 12100 block of Jamieson Place in Henrico’s Wyndham subdivision. “I never knew I had it in me.”

The victim, career nurse Jo Ann Casazza, remained in critical condition this morning in the burn unit of VCU Medical Center, in a medically induced coma.

The fate of Casazza now hinges on the skill of the doctors and nurses at the burn unit — and perhaps on a higher power.

It’s a belief in that higher power that her rescuers discovered they held in common.

Martin, founder of The Idea Center advertising agency, and Brian Gordon, who works at The Martin Agency, had never met until Monday.

Martin had set out that night with his 9-year-old daughter Mira to put his family dog down, Buddy. Gordon was just looking for a good place to have dinner with his girlfriend.

Martin and daughter Mira stopped to pray at the family church, Mount Vernon Baptist, after the dog succumbed, and set out for home. Gordon, stumped for a dining spot, paused at a Nuckols Road intersection, wondering whether he should turn right or left.

Then Mira saw a throbbing orange glow of light from the house fire. Gordon saw the image at the same time and the two vehicles changed direction and headed together to the light source.

On the lawn of the Casazza home, a crying girl and a screaming, petite woman, Casazza’s mother, were the picture of abandonment and lost hope.

“We heard that the woman had been safe but ran back in to save a family pet,” Martin said. “It was a very strange feeling after Buddy.”

Martin frantically tried to call 911 but misdialed, at first hitting 411. It was about 7:30 p.m. He had been thinking about how to pull himself out of the despair from the lost pet only to be suddenly confronted by another life-and-death situation on a grander scale.

“I just ran into the house. The front door was the only opening, and black smoke was just pouring out.”

Inside, the victim presented a daunting challenge.

Casazza was literally burning up before his eyes.

She was large, and “her skin was literally fused to a rug in the foyer,” Martin said.

When he pulled on her wrists, “the skin just pulled off. It was a gruesome thing to see.”

Suddenly, Gordon burst into the home and together the two men pulled the woman free of the house on the rug, dragging Casazza all the way to the street.

“I will never forget the people who had gathered there, and this terribly burned woman in the middle of the street on a rug with just terrible, terrible burns,” Martin said.

“I tried to comfort her: ‘Have faith. God is with you and you are going to be all right,'” he said.

“Do you mean it? Do you mean it?” Casazza answered.

Martin said he heard Casazza to describe how the family Christmas tree may have ignited. And then she was gone, carried to the hospital by rescue workers.

For more on this story, see tomorrow’s Times-Dispatch.

What My Bonfire Taught Me About Life

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So I had another one of my bonfires last night. The idea for these things started when I had the idea to have a Christmas Party last year. I wanted to have a bunch of people over, but didn’t want to deal with having them all in the house and whatnot. So I decided to have it outside. It was cold, so I got some wood and put out the fire pit. I also set up a projector and made a screen of sorts from some fabric and stretched it between two trees to show a movie. It was a big hit. I had about thirty people, a great amount. I did it again for my graduation party, at which about seventy-five people came.

Banking on the popularity and success of the previous gatherings, I decided to try it again this past summer. It was pretty much a flop. It was basically the victim of poor planning on my part. I invited everyone about a week before and had it on the weekend most people were headed off to college. Smooth.

Well, I did it again last night. I originally was going to have the thing before Christmas, but found myself broke and realized that too many people had prior commitments with it being a little more than a week before Christmas and all. So it turned out alright last night I guess. It wasn’t an amazing turnout, but twelve or thirteen isn’t anything to complain about either.

Jen and Allie were there from the beginning, and were pretty much the staples that held the thing together. With the exception of two others, the rest of the guests were high school friends. Just worked out that way. Now I may be quick with a joke or humorous one-liner here and there, but for the most part I’m just not one to be able to keep a party going (I was busy enough doing that with the fire anyway). I guess I figured I was like an air traffic controller or something in the sense that I thought I would get the plane (or in this case the party) started and on the right course and then the thing would naturally take off as people started to talk to each other. Well, it just didn’t really happen. I think the biggest problem is I have so many different groups of friends in a lot of different places, from all walks of life. It’s the same thing when I hang out with people. There’s always some sort of conflict or difference between the groups that prevents things from going as planned.

So anyway it wasn’t any sort of catastrophic failure or anything, I just don’t think I’m going to try and do the whole bonfire thing again. There’s just too much of an assortment of people that don’t seem to mix well together for some reason. I think I’ll stick to my close-knit group of friends when it comes to these types of gatherings in the future.

So after five paragraphs you’re probably wondering when the revolutionary stuff the title of this post hints at is going to show itself. Well, it’s nothing revolutionary or anything. Pretty basic. I think this whole thing has shown me that I’ve kind of moved on. See, living at home while in college thus far has caused me to straddle myself between Deep Run and VCU, at least friend-wise. There are a lot of Seniors I’m still friends with, and at the same time I have my college friends as well. The only ones I really keep up with lately are Winston, Jenn, and Lizzy. Me and them do lunch/dinner and stuff from time to time, but for the most part with everyone else I guess I’ve just moved on. It can be expected I guess. I guess you can get this mental picture of what your life looks like and then you see it physically (like last night) and you realize it’s completely shifted in a different direction and changed a lot.

I think I need to get a place to truly feel like I’m in college. It just sort of feels like I’m taking some classes right now doing the whole commuting thing. It’s time I get into this thing all the way.

Anyway, I think another thing this bonfire taught me about life is that we never think things are as good as the first time we do them. We never think Christmas, for the most part, is as special or magical as when we were kids. It’s all because we have this idea in our heads about what we think the perfect event, holiday, etc. is supposed to be like based on past events. Things change. That’s life. It’s tough to do sometimes, but we need to realize that change is a part of life and new traditions can be formed even if the old ones don’t work out anymore. This is another thing that happened at my party (having so many people come before) and it’s just something that really says a lot about life in general.

Who knew a simple gathering with friends could be a metaphor for so many things in life?