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Fire is Scary

by Toiny Westberry on 29 May 2013
in Adventures in Germany,Family,Personal Notes Pin this scrappy stuff!

Quick disclaimer, that is not our van, it is not us, and everyone got out without harm or injury.  Looking at the photo now, it is hard to tell that was a full-size (albeit a smaller one) RV (recreational vehicle or camper).  On Monday all the kids, and even Dave, had the day off & we finally took a trip to LEGOLAND. It is an amazing place, and I promise to babble more on Saturday, but our drive up to LEGOLAND was an adventure in itself.

LEGOLAND is just over an hour away, why we’ve never gone, being the lego lovers we are, I’ll never know.  But we finally went Monday morning!  We stuffed our three youngest, and a friend for Cole (that way he could explore the park on his own, but not alone), in Veronica and happily got under way.  The weather was freezing, but promised to warm up  and the roads were clear.  A miracle in Germany.  Dave drove and I sat next to him, happily babbling along.  I love whole days with Dave.  I have a lot of words to babble in person.  Suddenly Dave slowed down;

“Uh-oh!” Alarmed I looked up and immediately spotted the RV in front of us pulling over, sparks, maybe flames, under the engine.
“Should I pull over?” Dave asked; “it’s a Dutch license plate.” Honestly, we would have pulled over no matter the nationality of the driver, but Dutch people do have a special place in my heart.  Dave was barely stopped when I jumped out of the car, over the divider and started running towards the now-visibly flaming RV.  A man and a woman were out and staring in shock as flames first licked out from under the engine, then up the front of the hood.

“Are you okay?  Is everyone out?” I yelled in Dutch.  Yes, everyone was out & not hurt. It was just the two of them. I ran over to hug the shaking woman, and dialed ‘ 112‘ on my phone (our 911).  The dispatcher already knew about the fire, and she knew my exact location without me saying much more than “feuer!”. Right then the milk truck that had pulled over with us, backed up to right in front of the flaming vehicle.  We watched in surprise as he pulled out a big hose, attached it to the milk carrier and started pumping it out fast & furiously onto the flames.  Sadly, to no effect.  The flames continued to grow, engulfing the cab, and reaching to the back.  Within minutes the whole RV was ablaze.  I frantically started yelling for everyone to back-up, terrified of an explosion hurting those so close to the fire, so close to the RV.

Dave reassured me it was a diesel, and I learned diesel does not explode like gasoline, but the husband added they had two propane tanks for cooking on board.  Just then one of the tired blew, loud!  Everyone moved back & the first rescue vehicle arrived on scene.  Both sides of the autobahn were thankfully closed, as the rest of the RV was engulfed in flames.  Five fire trucks arrived and multiple hoses were dousing the RV in minutes.  Those guys move fast.  In the photo, you can see the smoke billowing out.  The fire chief had us evacuate all the kids out of our van, and over by the rescue vehicles.  The smoke was toxic and though Veronica  was parked far away, well out of reach of the fire, the smoke was infiltrating even through closed windows.

I wish we’d thought to video the kids hopping through the muddy, soft, fields.  The grass (wheat?) was quite high and they looked like bunnies trying to get well-around the fire and to the fire trucks. I helped the older couple talk to the fire chief, and then the police detective.  Both were in shock, and finally the rescue squad took them inside one of the vehicles.  I gave them Dave’s cell phone, told them not to worry and make all the calls they needed.  We gave our statements to the police as well, and our address.  By the time that was finished the fire was out, the smoke dissipated and we could return to Veronica and continue on to LEGOLAND.  The RV had burned to a mere shell in less than fifteen minutes.  Fire is insanely scary.

We did have a great day!  It did warm up.  And at the end of the day, on the way home, I called Dave’s cell phone.  Maaike answered right away, her voice much calmer, happy to hear from me.  They were both fine.  Thanks to Dave’s phone they had been able to call family, and insurance.  They were in a hotel, with a rental car being delivered in the morning.  They were going back home.  We talked a bit longer, and it is entirely possible we have some new friends.

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