Neighbors Unite: A Tale of Courage and Community in the Face of Danger

In the face of danger, will your neighborhood pull together as one? I am proud to say that our little neighborhood will and did work together in a firefight for our little community.

07/26/2023 Dripping Springs, Az.

It was 6:30 p.m., and I was deep in sleep when my fifteen-year-old daughter woke me up. “Dad,” Brett said in a calm but firm voice. “What is it?” I responded, still trying to wake from my dreams. “Dad, I smell smoke, and I can’t figure out where it’s coming from,” she said. “Alright,” I said, sitting up on my bed and shaking the cobwebs out of my head. As I started getting dressed, Brett went back out the door and searched some more. A few minutes later, she opened the door and said that there was a house on fire up the hill and someone was yelling for help. She was still using a calm voice, but with a firmer sense of urgency now. Brett and her sixteen-year-old sister (Landree) headed up the hill while I was now tying my boots. By the time I was heading up the hill, my two daughters were ready to take on the task of firefighters. I made it up the hill as quickly as I could and asked one of my neighbors if the fire department had been called. I was told they had been.

In the small community that we live in, we have a volunteer fire department ten miles from us in the town of Winkelman, and it does take a little time to get them together from surrounding communities as far as thirty miles away. It is up to the citizens in the area to do what they can until the fire trucks come rolling in. I found Brett and asked her what the situation was. She informed me there was a building (a single-wide trailer house) on fire and small propane tanks exploding. I made my way the rest of the way up the hill to see the trailer house already burned halfway. The few neighbors that live in the area had already dragged hoses out of their yards and were hard at work fighting the flames. I located an unmanned hose and joined my neighbors in the fight.

A handful of people fighting massive flames with ordinary garden hoses was a site to admire. We were actually making headway, but with the flames catching nearby trees, this was a monster that would be hard to conquer. It dawned on me that I hadn’t seen Landree, and I yelled for Brett to come over to me. “Where is Landree? ” I asked with concern. “She is protecting two children in the neighbor’s house (which is three trailer houses down and across the dirt road from where we were fighting the blaze),” Brett said. I found out later that Landree saw these children, who are seven and two years of age, needed to be cared for so their mom could help with the fire.

Landree knows that, in an emergency, there are no small jobs, and everyone has to work together. She took on the responsibility for these two lives with the promise that if the fire jumped the road or got too close, she would take them down the hill to our house. She would protect them and keep them out of harm’s way.

Meanwhile, Brett had run back down the hill to grab a case of water from our place to hand out to the ones fighting the fire (this, of course, was her idea, with nobody telling her to do so). I also learned later that Brett had been one of the people to call 911 and report the fire. She returned to the scene with the case of water and started handing it out. Most of us are in our elderly years, and this was taking a lot out of us. A second trailer was on fire now, and we were being spread thin. I knew we would need longer hoses to position ourselves to fight the ever-spreading fire. I said, “Brett, go back to the house and bring up some more hoses.” She answered, “Yes, sir, and was running back down the hill once more. I thought to myself how nice it was to have a high school track star to make these runs back and forth. In no time flat, she was back with two 100-foot hoses and helping hook them up, so we had a better reach to fight this demon of the night.

House fire on July 7, 2023 in Dripping Springs, AZ
Hard at work with garden hoses photo by Brett Scaggs

Another explosion as yet another five gallon propane tank exploded! “How many propane tanks are over there, for God’s sake?” I heard a neighbor yell. This is absolutely crazy I thought. Here we are, a few neighbors (most of us, well over fifty years of age) fighting this blaze of not just one building but two now (along with the trees a blaze) and actually holding on fairly well! Working as one without any disputes and looking as though we had trained to do this! What a class act we were in that moment.  Fighting hard for what seemed like forever, a small firetruck arrived with their big hoses and trained volunteer firefighters. They went to work knocking back the flames and creating a firewall to help keep the fire from spreading to the next trailer in line. We kept our hoses going as well, but we had moved farther down to stay out of the professional’s way. We continued to work on the hot spots from the embers landing farther away as the wind blew them from the trees that were on fire. The fire truck used up its water, and as they left to go reload with the precious liquid ten miles down the road, we jumped back in and continued fighting the beast that was trying to destroy our homes.

A short time later, we had two more small fire trucks arrive and take over to extinguish the fire monster in the night. After all was said and done, there were two trailers lost in the flames. However, the two that were lost were vacant, and we, along with our firefighters, stopped the blaze from going to the third trailer house, which is the home of a sweet lady. Our community came together in an hour of need and beat the beast blazing in the night.

I would like to thank our volunteer fire department for coming and stopping what could’ve been a disaster. I would like to commend my neighbors for coming together and working as a team to help conquer this demon of destruction. The Dripping Springs community is now even stronger after our fight! We did it!

Later that night, at home, my daughters came to me and asked if they had done a good job tonight. I told them they kept their heads up and did not panic during the ordeal. They found a way to help instead of finding a way to make a bad situation worse. Landree replied, “Dad, Brett did good by calling 911 and running back and forth, getting things to help, but all I did was babysit.” I answered her with my honest opinion: “Brett was on cue and kept her head. She took care of calling 911, bringing us water, and even bringing up the hoses that we needed. She is one that I want by my side in an emergency. Now, as for you, Landree, you are an incredible asset in the face of danger, taking care of two children and keeping them safe. You took responsibility for not just one soul but two. I am so proud of you both!”

Two teenage sisters., one with her arm around the other posing for the picture.
Brett Scaggs is on the left Landree Scaggs is on the right. photo by Nicole Scaggs

My girls showed me tonight that they have grown past their years in maturity, and I am one proud dad! One last thing before I go. Many prayers went up to Heaven from many of us during this fight. God heard our prayers and answered.

Not writer’s block, it’s writer’s pain

      I have to admit, this has not been one of my best weeks. In fact, it probably ranks in the lower half of all weeks that I have lived through. I started writing a few years after a work injury ended my career in mining. Along with helping keep my mind busy, I found that I was also helping others along the way with my thoughts and experiences put in print. Having nerve damage can be very painful at times. Even after years of dealing with this up and down pain and learning to handle what comes with it, there are days and sometimes weeks that are just too much to function with, let alone have the peace of mind to concentrate and write. This has been the case this week, no matter how many times I sat down to write this week’s post, I just couldn’t get started, let alone finish. Don’t get me wrong, I have many post in my head just waiting to come out and share with you, I just couldn’t sit still and concentrate long enough to get it done.

     The problem this week has nothing to do with writer’s block, more like writer’s pain that has been holding me back. I’m not the kind of writer who can create a lot of material and stockpile it for a later date to publish. I am the type that has to write at that moment of inspiration. It is true, I have a few posts started with the possibility of continuing at a later date. In these unfinished posts, none are more than two paragraphs long. I guess you could call them ideas more than posts. These will sit by the wayside until inspiration hits, and I can finish them. Some of these posts will never make it any farther than they are right now. I took some time this week and looked these over, with not even a hint of inspiration to grasp hold of. This is not to say that I couldn’t finish them as we speak, but they would not have the heart and soul I like to poor into my stories. If I ever finish a post without a small trickle of sweat on my brow, I know I haven’t put enough of myself into it yet.

A picture of a starry night with a quote by Billy Scaggs "Why look to the darkness of night when looking at the stars show the light?"
I’m reminded of what I was told about not seeing my inspiration. Thanks Doc

     Today, a very wise man (one of my doctors) suggested I write about how I have felt this week and be true to my word about it. He said that inspiration has been with me all week, I just wasn’t paying attention. I never realized pain could be a form of inspiration, especially someone who deals with it day-to-day.

     After starting this blog to help myself, a little over a year now, I have come to write more for your benefit than mine. This has done more good for me than it did when I started, I now have a reason to write other than keeping my mind busy. I now feel I’m maybe helping others who take a few minutes to read my posts. I feel almost selfish writing this post because I keep thinking, in some way, I am letting you down not posting my normal stuff. At this point, I’m not even sure that I will even publish this.

     I have never and will never believe the pain I go through is in any way worse than someone else’s. There are multitudes of people that are much worse off than I am. I can only write about what I know and let the others tell their own stories. I do, however, share a bond with others suffering from nerve damage. My sciatic nerve was damaged and there are many times I have parts of the left side of my body go numb, itch, ache and worse of all is the burning sensations that come to me. Real bad weeks like this one is when all of these symptoms come on at once and includes not just parts, but the whole left side of my body. When this happens, my normal insomnia becomes super insomnia, which, of course, stacks pain on top of pain without rest to break it up. Alas, here is where the problem of writing becomes huge, or as I like to call it, writer’s pain.

     The more I think about it, I’m becoming convinced that maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there that may get some good out of this post. If this is true and not just me over thinking, I would do that person an injustice by keeping this from being published. As long as I find this to be true and as long as I don’t convince myself otherwise, I will publish this as soon as I finish writing. I want to let others who deal with nerve damage know, I understand. I know how it feels when a slight change in temperature, change in barometric pressure or even a slight breeze can set off the pain in your body. This is no carnival ride, for sure. I guess the worst part about it is when people can’t see your injury, they sometimes don’t believe how you can possibly be hurt. If you’re not wearing a cast, you must be faking. Then comes the time when you find someone else who is suffering from the same thing, and you realize, “Hmm, I’m not crazy after all!” Just because an injury cannot be seen from the outside, doesn’t mean it’s not very real on the inside.

The last paragraph is for those who have nerve damage. Those who don’t share in this infliction, have no idea how it truly affects you. We, who do, learn to hide it the best we can for those who don’t.

I guess I should wrap this up now. Once I got started writing, it was hard to stop because while writing, the pain seems to disappear or at least, I don’t notice it quite so much. Thank you for allowing me to get away from my normal writing this week while I get my body to calm down. I will be posting again next week, going back to my normal writing. Take care, God bless and as always Remember, we are all in this together.