A tragedy that could have been so much worse struck our island community last night. At the Schnell family home, a fire broke out underneath the house. The occupants were unaware of the growing danger beneath them, and it was only thanks to neighbors who noticed the growing flames that everyone was able to get out of the house with the clothes on their backs. The fire department was quick to arrive on the scene, but because the fire had been burning for a while before it was noticed, the house was already fully involved with flames consuming the first two floors of the house. At that point, the primary mission of the fire department was to keep the adjacent home from catching fire while dousing the flames in as safe a manner as possible. The Schnell home was a total loss, but nobody was hurt and no other properties were lost.
Our fire department crew – “C shift”- responded promptly and professionally and did all that they could do. I’m grateful for Bob, Donny, Rick and Odis, as they rose to the task last night. Fire Chief Randy Loper came back from Hilton Head to be on the scene. Beaufort County EMS crew Angie and Charles pitched in, making sure that those fighting the fire had water and were not getting overworked. Yet I want to give a special thanks to the volunteer crew, because they are our neighbors who are willing to put their lives on the lines simply because it is the neighborly thing to do. Specifically, last night Lee Blaede, Matt Clark and Jeremey Quinn joined me on the scene for more than four hours, working to protect our community. Each of these gentlemen has undergone extensive training, especially over the last year, to ensure that our fire department can have as many trained hands as possible available when the inevitable strikes.
Twelve years ago, I became a volunteer firefighter. My reasoning was very simple: I am physically capable of performing the task and, since we are a bridgeless island, we cannot count on other fire departments helping out when tragedy strikes. Over the years, I’ve been on many fire scenes. Some houses we have saved and some were already too far gone by the time we arrived. Our professional crews are very good, but a well-trained volunteer crew helps to keep a bad day from getting much worse. Guys like Lee, Matt and Jeremey have selflessly given of themselves, and we as a community should be grateful for their service. And we need more to pitch in.
Would you please consider becoming a volunteer as well? Not every volunteer has to be trained and willing to run into a burning building. There are plenty of critical supporting jobs on the fire scene that need to happen if the guy on the end of the hose is to be able to do their job effectively. We train weekly, and could really use some more hands to join us. Feel free to either contact me or the Fire Station directly.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron