I should be in bed right now, but I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight. Not well, anyway.

As my husband and I were talking, sirens went screaming down our street and stopped just down the block.

“I hope everything’s okay,” I thought. Then, more sirens. And more. And more. We stepped outside to find, half a block away, three fire engines, several police cars, and an ambulance. There didn’t appear to be a fire, not a blazing one at least, so the quantity of emergency vehicles startled me a bit. I walked down the street a bit to see if any of our neighbors knew what was going on, but no one did. As I talked to the girl across the street, a fellow came walking up and passed us quickly, never even glancing at the commotion. He walked through the church parking lot, which is next door to my house, and disappeared after telling another curious onlooker that he was “cutting through to the other road.”

“Weird,” I thought. “There’s no way to get through there. Just trees and thorns and that creek…it drops straight off after that!” Immediately after, a lady came up from where the chaos was and reported what had happened. Apparently, a string of arsons had occurred in the area, and this looked to be the latest. Someone had used gasoline as an accelerant and set the water heater of a house on fire!

Three things ran through my mind before I could blink:

1.) According to a neighbor, a few nights ago someone was poking around the outside of my house with a flashlight at midnight.

2.) My cellar door doesn’t lock. Not well, anyway. The access door to the house is sturdy, but to get into the cellar (and the water heater!) from the outside of the house wouldn’t take anything.

3.) As soon as that guy realizes he can’t get through those trees, he’ll turn around and see my open cellar door.

My brave husband checked the cellar, and all was clear, but I’m still rattled. If someone were to light our water heater, I don’t think I’d notice til it was too late! Because of its location and design of the house, I think the smoke would escape up the stairwell and out the back door rather than into the house. I’m afraid that the heater would explode before I smelled the smoke! I guess tomorrow’s itennerary will include a trip to the store to pick up a few smoke detectors for the cellar stairwell and downstairs!

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