I received a phone call from my sister this afternoon. It started out something like, “You need to be praying…” and immediately my stomach sank. Calls that start like that are never good news. KWIM?
She went on to tell me that the building where my brother, Darrel, works was on fire.
I couldn’t help but think back to the time, years ago, when Darrel was burned in a fire while at work. That day, our neighbor had come running across the street in a panic and told my Mom that they had rushed Darrel to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis in serious condition. He nearly died that day. He spent time in the Burn Unit at Barnes Hospital. When he came home, Mom had to change his wound bandages routinely, and the smell of his charred skin was pretty disgusting. I was petrified of losing my brother then, and all of those feelings welled to the surface.
“He got out,” she said, “but the building is still burning, and there are at least three fire departments battling the blaze.”
My heart did a little leap when she said that he got out. That is good news. But it sank a bit when she said the building was still on fire. You see, the business where he works is in the one of oldest parts of downtown Alton, Illinois, on the 600 block of Broadway. The building housed several businesses at street level and tenant apartments above. As you know, a small spark in an old building can reek havoc on the entire place.
I sent my brother a text as I told my husband what was happening, and then jumped on his Facebook to see if there was any updates on there,.
Within minutes, my phone was ringing, and tears of joy sprang from my eyes as I answered the phone and heard my brother say, “Hey Sis, I’m okay.” Of course, my sister told me that he was, but hearing his voice say it just did something.
I asked him what happened. He said that he and his boss, Jason, were in BD Sports, where he works, when someone started pounding on the door of the business. He went to check the door and saw smoke at the ceiling. He saw smoke coming from under the basement door, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and started to open the basement door. When he did, a plume of black smoke greeted him. He ran to tell the others to get out of the building and then saw flames were shooting up through a vent. They were able to get out, and as one dialed 9-1-1, the other ran up the stairs and pounded on the tenant apartment doors to make sure no tenants were up there.
I asked if he knew who had pounded on the door. He said it was Donna from Donna’s Cakery next door.
Ten hours later, it is reported that fire crews continue to battle the fire that resulted in multiple fire departments being called out. At lease two of the businesses, BD Sports and Donna’s Cakery, are reportedly destroyed.
As I have watched news coverage of the fire and read the updates online, I can’t help but thank the Lord that Donna thought to alert them of the smoke.
The 600 block of Broadway was home to a lot of mom and pop type shops. The kind that will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to recover from such devastation.
Your prayers for all of them are earnestly coveted.