Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Part of the Bucket Brigade: Putting out the Fire

We had an exciting night last night.  It was after 10 p.m. and we had just turned in.  Our compound is usually very peaceful, calm, and quiet at night so we were startled by loud shouting just outside our apartment.  I peeked out and it looked like people were fighting.  Very unusual for our compound.  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 right was on fire.

We grabbed our laptops, our passports, my purse, and shoes and locked them into our truck and moved it away.  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 he broke the window, he still couldn't get out.  I think he wasn't thinking clearly and panicked plus he had consumed a lot of alcohol.

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.

Needless to say, Francis asked the people who started the fire to leave the compound.  He tries hard to rent to people who keep the peace, act intelligently, and respect property.


  1. So glad you are safe and that the building is made of cement so it didn't spread to your apartment!!

  2. Long time no hear from us! We want you to know how thankful we are for your safety. Absolutely love reading your blog! What tremendous experiences you are having! We are reading the book by Clayton M. Christensen "The Power of Everyday Missionaries" It is inspiring. Got lots of ideas to help us in our mission to the Cardston Temple Information Centre. You can get it as an ebook from Deseret Book. You would love it! Keep up the good work! Stay safe, eh! Love ya, Dwayne & Janice

  3. So good to hear from you!! Glad you are still involved with the temple. You will be great! You are both so kind and loving. We miss you!

  4. Wowsers, Colleen and LeRon! I am so thankful you and all your neighbors are fine, and for the way you worked together and the hand of God in it. Love you!

  5. What a night! I'm so glad that you were all protected!

  6. Elder and Sister Torrie we have seen your monument at the Grassy Lake Cemetery and think it is beautiful.
    My family has always taken part in the Remembrance Day services in Bow Island. I have had the honour of being the official reader of the honour roll for many many years. The only time that I didn't read it was while we were serving our mission in the Fiji Islands. My mother was born in Grassy Lake and my wife spent many of her childhood years there. Her early childhood education was at Grassy.
    My youngest daughter and I plan to be at the meeting that is being held on the 29th for the cannula cleanup of the cemetery because we have family members buried there as well. Two of my mom's sisters and one brother is buried there.
    Have a great mission and we will see you when you get home.

    Brother and Sister Ron and Lyn Larsen.

  7. Hello Ron and Lyn. Thanks for your comments. Of course we remember your mother, Ron. She was a good companion to Grandma-Great Flora Torrie for a while. She was a good lady. And Lyn, we loved your mom and Dad, Thora and Claude Adamson. Knew them well in the Grassy Lake ward. Lyn, you helped our daughter Heather when she first went to the temple in Cardston. So we have many memories of your family.

    So glad you like the monument. Our family is so pleased to have facilitated its erection in the Grassy lake Cemetery.

    I think the annual clean-up for the cemetery is in May or june. But the there is a meeting the end of November. Glad you will be there. Always good to get input from others.
    Colleen Torrie