• Diane

My neighbour's house is on fire

An orange cloud rolls in over my house, blocking the sun that was just busy drying my sheets on the line.

Fires happen often in my village, but I know without checking that it’s the Peterson house. They are my closest neighbour. Fires happen often at the Peterson’s. His plot of land is dry and prone to burning, but these fires are getting more and more frequent.

Most of us in the village have been telling him it’s due to his haphazard use of space heaters. He and his friends won’t hear it. They argue that fires are just a natural occurrence and there’s nothing to be done to stop them from happening. It’s gotten harder for them to use that logic now that the fires are getting out of hand. So they blame other things. Must be those darn kids playing with matches!


They never want to even talk about space heaters.

Peterson’s fires are most often contained. A small burn in one or two rooms of his massive house. This one seems worse than usual. The whole house isn’t engulfed in flames, even if that’s what our village newspaper wants you to believe. Yet, I can see that many rooms have flames bursting out of the windows, a bigger spread than ever before.

Peterson doesn’t seem all that concerned. I have seen him visiting other houses while his still burns. His attempts at putting out the fire seem meagre. Once in a while, he will throw a bucket of water on the flames but it hardly makes a dent.


The village is concerned of course. Not that their houses will catch on fire. Peterson’s house is separate and this fire will not spread to them. They seem to forget that we all share the air and the water. And besides, they all have those same cheap space heaters running day and night. What about when a fire is in one of those townhouses further North? All those houses, and families, one right next to the other.

The villagers all talk about how sad it is for Peterson. They pray for all his family and pets in the house that are suffering. Those in the nicer houses might even send over some goods. Old blankets and food that they weren’t going to use anyway. They might even try and give Peterson some money and hope he uses it wisely on dealing with his fire.

But no one wants to address the bigger issue.

At least it’s not my house, they all say. Although, with the increase in space heaters we all use it very well could be soon. These fires will occur more and more until we aren’t able to help one another. We’ll be too busy with our own houses.

My house is separate from the other houses and much smaller than Peterson’s. It’s safer. While I have my own space heaters, I keep the rooms less cluttered so fires aren’t as likely to spread. The humidifier helps too.

While I know that there are alternatives to these horrible heaters, I’m not ready to change yet. This is how I’ve always heated my house. Maybe if my neighbours changed I might follow suit, but being the only one to sacrifice just doesn’t seem fair.

When it’s my fire, I’ll deal with it.


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