Memories of the Fire

You never know when you'll need firefighters. Kudos to Linda Bauer and the Maple Grove Fire Department.

After interviewing Linda Bauer, an on-call Maple Grove firefighter, I got to thinking about my own experience with fire. I was 20 years old and living with three other girls in a townhouse in Woodbury. It was a very cold January evening, and as we often did back in the day, we were having a Jafra skincare party with a bunch of our friends. We were laughing, carrying on, giving ourselves that Jafra glow, (and probably having a sip of wine or two) and just enjoying ourselves.

About halfway through the party, and I can’t even remember the exact sequence of events, but all I remember are flames coming up the basement stairs (it was a split level), and the overwhelming sound as some of the windows in the basement began blowing out. We ran out—sans shoes or jackets—into the frigid night air, as the flames began licking the walls. We all stood there dumbfounded as the fire trucks appeared, and I have a keen memory of my friend running to a window in the back that hadn’t broken out, and punching it will her bare fists because her dog, Jenny, was still inside. My friend singed her hair and eyebrows, and I remember her sitting in the ambulance, sobbing, as the firefighters tried to get the dog out alive.

It happened so unbelievably fast and it was surreal, like a spinning kaleidoscope, with each frame, each image, overlapping and changing the other. Sadly, tragically, sweet Jenny succumbed to the fire. Two of my friends who shared the basement bedroom lost everything they owned, and my other friend and I were able to salvage some things if the smoke or the water hadn’t damaged it beyond repair.

The fire was deemed electrical. And, for years, I couldn’t smell smoke or see fire flames, without being transported right back to that cold day in January.

I also remember the kindness of the firefighters, the compassion they showed for us crazy girls who lost a sweet dog and most everything else in that blaze. We each got $115 from the Red Cross because, in our youthful naïveté, we neglected renters insurance.

So, thank you to all the firefighters, you undercover heroes, out there--like Linda Bauer and everyone else on the Maple Grove fire department, who throw their fight-or-flight response to the wind, and run in when everyone else is running out.

Read more about Bauer in our July issue, available at July 1.