I was home Sunday afternoon cleaning up my office when I heard sirens coming down the street and wondered what was going on.
I did not look out the window on my back deck until I heard and saw the sixth fire truck and four police cars rolling into our community of Newport Crest. That is when you know something bad has happened, and it requires a walk down the street.
What I discovered was fire engines and paramedic rigs from Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach. Two condominiums were on fire in a courtyard near my home. Since it was Sunday, many residents were home and had gathered to see what was going on – all hoping the fire would not spread through the whole courtyard.
The Crest is built mostly out of wood, with some stucco and fairly new roofs. We have many trees and they too could catch fire and spread the fire from courtyard to courtyard.
This could have been a major disaster, but it was not – because of our fast responding fire department and police.
Many residents watched the fire personnel drag their equipment up to the top roof and enter the inside of the house to try and get a handle on the fire. I am looking at all the equipment, trucks, ladders, hoses, tanks, and other gear being thankful that our city has spent money replacing and keeping up our equipment.
The fire department also planned wisely for our complex by calling in local units besides the Newport Beach Department to ensure they had the manpower to handle this fire in case it should spread. We residents stood there in awe that our support services were on top of this and that we could be pretty well assured that this fire would not take more than two homes.
Public safety is often taken for granted, until you stand outside your house or someone else’s and wonder will this be my home that is gone in less than an hour? Years of paying a mortgage, remodeling, maintaining, fixing, cleaning and caring for a home and it all can be gone in less than a half-hour. That gives a person pause, and makes you acutely aware that we all need to demand that while there are budget cutbacks to be considered, public safety should never be compromised.
The police had to keep the residents back so that the fire personnel could safely go in and out of the fire zone. They were professional and courteous all afternoon ensuring everyone even courtyard residents who were anxious to enter their homes nearby could go and come safely. Their presence was crucial to keeping people calm and safe while watching our local and nearby fire departments do their jobs. Thank you, Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach.
Besides recognizing our city safety departments, I am also aware of how important it is to have a safe roof. Our roofs were formerly wood shake shingles until we replaced them about eight years ago.
The roof had been put on when the complex was built around 1975. When they started the replacement process, you could see how bad the roofs had gotten as they started to peel them back. You could see daylight through my roof’s plywood surface. Much of it had to be replaced before putting on the roof and this happened all through the Crest.
Had we continued to delay putting on new roofs we would have easily had a major fire burning through the whole Crest.
We can be thankful building codes require new roofs to be fire retardant and meet certain standards for installation. We all need to be good neighbors and maintain our roofs, as an old roof could help spread a fire in our home to your neighbor’s house as well. This is when we truly need to work together as a neighborhood and be conscious of how our house affects everyone else’s.
So I am thankful I paid the extra assessment a few years back to reroof the entire complex. Yesterday as I saw our roofs withstand fire and heat I was grateful that fire personnel were essentially stepping on roofs that were repaired and up to code to help ensure their safety as well.
A job well done.