Prologue – The Unaccounted Four

Here is the complete prologue from, The Unaccounted Four.  

Heavy fire was already rolling out of the second story windows when the one, and only, fire engine, an open-cab American LaFrance, pulled onto the scene. The fire chief and another volunteer jumped out, slinging on the remaining parts of their firefighting ensemble.  At this stage of the fire with the heavy involvement the Chief new instantly that the structure would be a total loss.  However, he couldn’t know whether anyone was inside or if the conditions were still even tenable to life.  

He barked an order to his lone fireman, “Grab a line and extend it to the door, I’ll engage the pump and back you up.”  He knew his 750 gallons of water would never be enough to fully extinguish the fire, but he hoped it would be enough to get inside and save anyone he could.

As he ran to join his partner on the fire hose, a woman frantically grabbed his arm screaming, “My babies are still in there! Help me, please!” He pulled away and continued toward the house.  On the hose line they were able to make entry.

Once inside the door, they were met with oppressive heat, that pushed them both to the ground.  The smoke inside was thick and dark.  There wasn’t much time! As the firemen dragged the hose into the first room, they heard a loud crack, and saw a flash toward the back of the house.  It was starting to collapse around them! Quickly, the Chief gave the command to back out.  They made it out to the yard just as all the fuels in the house simultaneously ignited and the whole structure flashed over. Now, fully involved, there was nothing anyone could do, but watch.

Hours later, the Fire Chief and the Police Chief, were digging through the structure.  They were looking for signs of any survivors or bodies.  The mother and father had made it out with one child, but there were four that were not accounted for. After days of digging there were no remains found. The children were presumed dead, where else could they have been?  They were small, babies, that had been tucked in for the night by their parents.  There was no other explanation.  They had perished in the fire.  It was assumed that the flames had reached such high temperatures that all bones, teeth, and other body parts had been disintegrated.

From what the investigation could best determine, the fire had started in the attic. Most likely caused by faulty electrical wiring.  The fire had moved rapidly through the ceiling above the children. As they slept, the fire grew. By the time of the first scent of smoke and the first sight of flames, the fire was too large to stop.  It progressed rapidly.  It was only by luck that the mother, father, and the oldest son had made it out.

Thirty years later….

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