Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • LETTER: Firefighters posted pics to facebook while house burned

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  • It has been a week over a month since a fire had destroyed our home, leaving my family misplaced and asking questions such as: Why? Where now?
    I had also asked myself a few questions. The questions I had were totally different. I didn’t have to ask myself, “why did this happen?” or “where do we go now? I knew I had someone greater than any fire on my side. Our Heavenly Father who has always shown He’s been in my life and the lives of my children in so many ways. So why should I doubt now, that He wouldn’t have taken care of us?
    My questions had been along the line of, “doesn’t anyone care?” (I’ll get to this later.)
    The day of the fire started out the usual routine, before I headed off to work, later in the afternoon. The last event I recall within our home was that of my 3 year old Granddaughter and my 4 year old Grandson chasing each other from room to room. (“Grandma’s house is so big, with so many places to hide.”) Their screams and laughter was enough to make me want to run and hide, yet I found myself standing the kitchen, smiling and thinking how truly blessed I am. I was already mentally preparing for the holidays, excitement swelling inside me, because all my family was planning on being together. I envisioned the holiday meal being prepared in the kitchen that I loved.
    As the morning ended and I said my goodbyes heading off to my afternoon job. A few hours into work, I called my youngest daughter. During the conversation she started yelling, “the house is on fire.” I then lost connection. This was when my life as I knew it set sail onto a totally different course. I immediately started crying out to our faithful Father, begging, “Please, please not our home.”
    A few minutes later my youngest daughter called back to tell me the fire was out. I immediately started giving thanks, (then made another phone call to my co-worker, telling her the fire was out; she didn’t need to come in.)
    In the meantime it was coming across the scanner as a “working structure fire.” I listened as one fire company after another was being called to our home. My daughter then told me the fire kept starting back up. I once again began crying out to our Heavenly Father to please put out the fire. After all He is the same today as He was yesterday and will continue to be in the future. Miracles still happen. My co-worker came in for me and I then started toward the home I was being told was on fire.
    Page 2 of 4 - So many thoughts go through a person's mind when they are losing something which is a part of their life. Waves of emotion kept coming after me, yet I still had that faith of a mustard seed. Even though I was feeling sick to my stomach, I still believed that our Heavenly Father could stop this fire.
    As I was walking toward our home, my head was down; my mind was in full arrest. I finally became brave enough to look up and what I saw were flames shooting out the roof top. Reality told me our home was gone. Faith told me my Heavenly Father was still there.
    My youngest son met me, hugging me and telling me this was big yes, but it can be fixed. I located all the Grandchildren and spotted their parents, then proceeded to the house, still believing, our Heavenly Father is in control.
    I won’t go on to describe the rest of the events, for as you all know our home was a total loss. What I would like to share is how I came to peace and why I asked the question, “Doesn’t anyone care?” How careful we need to be with the way we present ourselves while working in the public, with many eyes observing.
    I witnessed, volunteer firefighters who did not appear prepared, equipment not ready. The right hand did not know what the left was doing. I witnessed a fire hydrant that wasn’t working. I witnessed firefighters using their cell phones to video tape and then sending it onto Facebook and YouTube as the fire was happening. (These are problems that need to be corrected before the next home is lost. I want also to add I am not attacking the volunteers or the city. I am deeply grateful for the effort that had been made.) This was my home and I called out to our Heavenly Father again, just as I thought I would lose my sanity as well as all my earthly possessions calmness settled over me and I was done begging our Heavenly Father to put out the fire. I was then asking why doesn’t anyone care that our home, our possessions, years and years of memories disappearing? Why was I not seeing or hearing compassion, hearing a simple, “I’m sorry?” It was not about the fire any longer, it became about how people treated people.
    I went to my back porch swing, where I had spent many hours praying and reading, swinging the Grandchildren, having cookouts. My back porch swing, the place I had always felt the peace of God, and viewed His beauty in many ways, in the flowers, the bumblebees, and the Grandchildren swinging.
    Page 3 of 4 - I cried out to our Heavenly Father, yet again. This time I was going to be still and listen to what He may have been trying to tell me. I realized that I wasn’t giving victory to Him. I instead was allowing myself to be out-of-control emotionally. This in return was giving victory to Satan.
    I was reminded of Job. This man was hit with tragedy full force, one right after another. How did Job respond? Not by cursing God, nor blaming, but by saying, “….the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.” I love this! Praise God! I was then able to start praising our Heavenly Father. Thanking him that lives weren't lost. I just praised and praised till I was once again filled with the peace that one can feel through our Heavenly Father.
    The fire wasn’t the fault of God. It’s just one of life’s tragedies that take place. We have choices as to allow it to break us or make us stronger. We can choose to let it rob us of spiritual growth. Or choose to let it make us stronger with our spiritual walk. My choice is to give thanks and bring glory to our Heavenly Father’s name and to be able to say,”….blessed be the name of the Lord.”
    I may not have seen or felt compassion during the course of the fire. But I can honestly say I have seen the hand of God at work. I have felt His blessings over and over, through the outpouring of total strangers. They have opened up their hearts to the needs of my family and me.
    I am so thank-full for all who have contributed and shared what they have. For those who have called with encouraging words, those who are praying for us.
    I know that I sure will be standing in line to lend a helping hand to anyone I hear of that suffers a loss.
    I believe a lot of times we lack empathy. This is to say, often enough we don’t put ourselves in the shoes of the person. Whatever event may be taking place at the time. While working with the public I know this is one area I am praying God will fine tune. It means a lot to hear someone say, “I am truly sorry, how can I help?” We are to be God’s example of compassion, love and caring. All of these lead to sharing. That in return can lead someone to God. (I would like to give credit to the young deputy who did come to me later after all had settled down and did extend a offer of telling me how very sorry he was. This meant a lot and said a lot for his character and department.)
    Page 4 of 4 - For those who have shared and helped in whatever way you could. Your kindness has shown my family and me that people do still care. I am so grateful and wish I could repay you all back in someway. The only way I can do this is to hold myself accountable to pray for all of you each day as you go out and handle life issues. I pray for blessings to fall on all of you and that safety will always be with you.
    It is also my prayer that not one of you is lost. That all will get to experience how awesome God’s love is!
    Thank-you from the very depths of my heart.
    Riki Renee Emerson
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