Tonight I was driving home from Shelby on Route 74 at about 7:30 when I noticed a black column of smoke silhouetted against an already dark sky. I was thinking, "I don't remember a smoke stack there...".
As I got a bit closer I noticed that there was an area of trees that were bright with the light of flames and I thought someone was having a bonfire.
Traveling further down the road I saw that the trees were lit very brightly and was hit with the tragedy that this must be a forest fire. I immediately thought about calling 911, but thought I would wait to get closer so I could see if the fire department was already there.
Rounding the last bend in the road a terrible tableau opened up and seared itself into my memory forever. There was a house on fire not one hundred feet from the road on which I was driving. I often use the word conflagration, but I don't think I really understood the meaning of it until tonight.
There was no part of that house untouched by flames. Every surface, every edge, every molecule it seemed was combusting. It was literally a fire in the shape of a house. It was a hellish nightmare of flame. It was the most horrible sight a homeowner or anyone with loved ones could imagine, and yet it was also mesmerizing in a "can't look away" moment. As terrible as it was, I couldn't take my eyes off it as I drove by in what seemed like slow motion and I will never forget it.
It's odd, but I remember thinking there was also a strange beauty to it. If one can remove or at least postpone the tragic aspect of it, the house was completely illuminated by the most unearthly light imaginable. That same light shone on the trees surrounding the house and lit up the area almost like daylight.
The fire department was there, but no one was making any effort to extinguish the flames. I guess it was a total loss and I prayed to God that nobody was in that building.
I remember thinking all these thoughts in less than a minute while looking at it. I was, after all driving down the highway and it soon disappeared from view, but not from my memory. Never from my memory.
This is not an actual picture of the house, but the closest one I could find to what I saw.