Reality Round-Up: Great Balls of Fire Edition

The hottest element around (courtesy of Kyrus 86)

It’s no secret that there are four basic elements. The name of the 1970’s soul band Earth, Wind & Fire mentions three of them. And who can blame them for leaving one out?

Earth, Wind, Fire & Water just doesn’t have the same zip to it.

We all understand the importance of these elements to life on this planet. At least I hope we all do. And in one way or another, they end up affecting us all, so much so that they inadvertently end up in the news.

Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, forest fires, hurricanes… they are as common as pimples on teenagers. And they make for such riveting drama that news people can’t help but feature them.

Rare is the time, though, when one element stands above the others, dominating newscasts and running through online news sites like… for lack of a better term… a brush fire.

That very thing happened recently, as a matter of fact. And yes, the element to which I am referring is our hot-headed friend, FIRE himself. Or herself. Whatever.

Though every story wasn’t a “barn burner,” per se, they all had that one burning element connecting them. And for this reason, I justify this edition of the Reality Round-Up in the immortal words of rock & roll legend and infamous cousin-lover Jerry Lee Lewis.

“Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Although it played no real part in Las Vegas legend and lore—and despite being a clear target for demolition—the Key Largo Casino made news last week when it mysteriously burst into flames, igniting a dangerous four-alarm fire that posed challenges for local firefighters.

“Obviously it’s a four-alarm fire, and they don’t happen that often,” senior deputy fire chief Girard Page reported. “It’s taken quite a few resources to fight the fire.”

Crews could not move into the building because the roof continued to collapse in places, weakening the support structures below. Two firemen sustained non-life-threatening injuries, but no civilians were hurt and no one died. That’s good news considering the damage has been estimated at almost $5 million.

But that’s how things go in Vegas, right? You win some, you lose some. It just sucks when it’s the latter.

That had to suck (courtesy of KPLZ-FM)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

I simply must give a quick “shout out” to firefighters in my home town, the Windy City.

Early Thursday morning, they received a call about some people trapped in an apartment elevator in the Loop. It seems these folks got stuck around 11:00 the night before, but it was around 2 a.m. before firefighters could get them out.

I know what you’re thinking: It took them that long to get those people out? The answer is obviously yes, but consider this:

The reason people got trapped was because there were too many of them in the elevator to begin with! They’re lucky the whole damn thing didn’t come plummeting down!

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Now for something a little more uplifting than that elevator story. Get it?

Also on Thursday, just before ten in the morning, Jim Leasure was sitting on his front porch, relaxing during a beautiful new day, when he noticed thick black smoke pouring out of a house across the street. Leasure immediately sprang into action, dashed over and rushed inside the burning structure.

“It was so intense,” Leasure said. And inside the smoke-filled home, he found eight young children between the ages of three and five. “I just knew I couldn’t wait a second longer. I had to get those kids out of there.”

And get them out, he did. On this particular day, a two-alarm fire—still a doozy by anyone’s standards—met its match in the form of Leasure, an artist best known for painting angels. And because of him, eight children will live.

Maybe not for long once their parents get hold of them, though.

According to investigators, the blaze started when one of the children set fire to a mattress in the bedroom where they were all playing at the time. The flames spread quickly—as did the smoke—and eventually engulfed not only the kitchen, but also a portion of the building next door.

And they’re underneath us every night (courtesy of CBS News)

If you don’t think these kids are going to get the old “if you play with fire, you’re going to get burned” lecture—if not the ass whipping of their short lifetimes—then you’ve got another thing coming!

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

Fire played a more indirect role in this next story, which makes it no less heartbreaking, to be sure.

I wasn’t aware of this, but Missouri has some kind of “safe haven” law that allows parents to surrender their newborns within five days at some safe, designated place without fear of being prosecuted.

I guess that’s better than abusing them or abandoning them in some less responsible way.

Parents with children less than one year of age may also participate in this weird process, but there’s no guarantee they will be exempt from criminal charges. Of course, this still doesn’t apply to this next parent.

Last Tuesday evening, firefighters were sitting around KC Fire Department Station 17 when an unknown man entered. With him was a 6-year-old boy, presumably the man’s son.

He told the firefighters that he could no longer care for the boy and split—a clear case of abandonment considering the child’s age. Firefighters cared for the boy—giving him soda and playing basketball with him for a while—and then delivered him to Children’s Mercy Hospital, where he was later met by social services.

The child remains in protective custody, but still no word on his father or his reasons for abandoning his son. Perhaps we’ll never know why someone would do such a thing. I don’t buy the whole “I can’t care for him any longer” thing, either. Sounds like a cop-out, if you ask me.

That’s the fire station! Now what? (courtesy of WYFF)

Maybe the kid is better off.

LAURENS, SOUTH CAROLINA

The child from the last story is fortunate his “deadbeat dad” didn’t abandon him at the Ekom Fire Department last Thursday. Because in the ultimate example of irony, the building that went up in flames was… wait for it… the fire station itself!

Firefighters were on the scene. That’s it. They just were.

Seriously, though… no one knows what caused the fire, but an investigation is currently underway. And I wish I could say the damage wasn’t extensive, only that wouldn’t be accurate.

Though no one was hurt in the blaze—which itself is enough to satisfy me—this particular station had recently received grants for new equipment that now more closely resembles something chef Bobby Flay would toss together on the grill.

It’s all gone. And it’s a damn shame, too. That equipment could have saved some lives.

Fire is the most primal of elements, and without it humans just wouldn’t be where they are today. But the fact remains that every so often—regardless of how much we respect it—we just can’t escape its wrath.

“If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.” I completely agree, but here’s the kicker: you can still get burned when you’re not playing with it. And that’s what makes it so beautiful and dangerous.

Please don’t burn me, fire. I just said you were beautiful…

Posted on April 1, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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