We had an exciting night last night. It was 10 p.m. and we had just turned in. Our compound is very peaceful, calm, and quiet at night. So we were startled awake by loud shouting just outside our apartment. I peeked out and it looked like people were fighting. Very unusual for our neighborhood. Then I heard things popping and I said to LeRon, "I think there's a fire." He didn't think so but we both jumped into our clothes and headed outside. By then there were more people around and someone yelled, "There's a fire." Sure enough the apartment upstairs and to our left was on fire.
We grabbed our laptops, our passports, my purse, and shoes and locked them into our truck. We turned off the gas to our stove and the electricity. Then we joined all our neighbors to find out what was going on. Apparently a candle had caught the curtains on fire. The men in the apartment had been drinking so everything got out of hand very quickly.
People ran for buckets and we became part of a bucket brigade to carry water from the swimming pool upstairs to the apartment. Hard, heavy work. I could barely carry a bucket of water and the African ladies were carrying two buckets of water. Wow. We worked for a couple of hours to finally extinguish the flames. In the meantime we heard the fire truck sirens but the truck never came. Finally, about half an hour after the fire was out, the fire truck arrived. There are no addresses in Nairobi (or in Kenya for that matter) so the fire truck got lost and couldn't see any flames so figured it was a false alarm. They were amazed that we had put out a fire of that magnitude with buckets from the swimming pool.
People really worked well together. All the neighbors joined in to help save our apartment building of four apartments. The man who started the fire with a candle felt so bad. He had cut his hand really badly trying to break a window. Not sure why he was trying to do that because there are steel bars on all the windows so even if you broke the window, you still couldn't get out. I think he wasn't thinking clearly and panicked.
When it was all over, everyone was pretty hyper so we sat by the swimming pool and talked over what went well and what we should do to prevent any further fires. No candles we decided. We also talked of the need for big fire extinguishers and ladders in the stair wells of all the apartment buildings and for more buckets and hoses. We talked of having a "horn" we could sound to alert people that we needed help.
Everyone mentioned that they thought it had been a domestic quarrel at first or that we were being attacked by robbers. Our landlord, who is a government politician, was in bed when his daughters alerted him that something was going on outside with all the shouting and commotion. His first thought was that we were being attacked so he grabbed his gun and ran outside. (We teased him that he was going to fire on the fire!) Then he could see the fire. He is a very religious man, so he went back inside and put his hand on his big Bible and prayed for help.
We teased him again that while he was inside praying we were all outside working. But then we agreed that God really had helped us and that it was a miracle that no one was hurt and that the damage was contained in the one apartment. At the end of our little meeting, LeRon suggested that Francis, our landlord, give a prayer of thanks. We all listened carefully as he thanked the Lord for the miracle we had had that night and everyone gave a loud "amen."
So many good people live here in our compound. I'm so grateful for the good friends we have here and for the miracle we saw last night. With God's help and the hard work of good people, we were all safe. Also glad that everything here is made of solid concrete blocks. At home with our houses made of wood, the whole thing would have gone very quickly.