Fear!

October 13, 2010
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Fear and desperation tainted the air, mixing with thick roiling black smoke and making it almost impossible to breathe. We could feel the heat even from where we were standing. Everything we had built up and grown in the last eight years gone in a matter of hours. We weren't prepared for this. We never thought this would happen to us, not again.

Sifting through the debris and charred wood was hard work, but I had to help find something, anything that could be saved from the rubble. Some of the machinery was salvageable, but the expensive new forklift and everything in the offices was gone. The computers, the files, the records, all of the customers orders, gone. It was hard work trying to find something that wasn't completely obliterated by the fire, but it had to be done, for the sake of the business.

My grandparents own a business, a pallet company that they bought and started to grow in 2000. A pallet company, as the name entitles, builds pallets using heavy machinery such as large saws and complicated nailing machines. Some of the building is done manually as well. Our family business was originally located behind my grandparents house, with a long separate driveway leading to the buildings. Behind their house was a large concrete area, filled with two buildings and a lot of wood covering every inch of free space. It was a great place to be after the work day was over because me and my siblings would go back and explore between all the stacks of wood and try to catch the stray cats that hid back there. We had tons of fun, until it wasn't there anymore.

In 2005 one of the buildings caught on fire. It was a pain to repair the damage, but the flames were put out before it spread very far. We were lucky that time. After that, my grandparents bought a second warehouse in Warsaw, a place they were originally going to use just to store wood. We didn't know how lucky it was that we had bought it. Three years after the first fire, we had another one, and this time we were not so lucky. By the time the firemen arrived the fire was too strong and dangerous, and they wouldn't allow us to open any of the doors to save anything in case there was a back draft and someone got hurt. In fact, so much damage had been done that the firemen decided the best thing to do would be to knock the building down to help contain the flames. By the time the fire was put out, all that was left was a big, black, smoky mess in the middle of a concrete field.

Almost everything was lost, and the only thing we had left of the business was the warehouse we had just purchased in Warsaw. We also managed to save quite a bit of wood from the ruins once we all teamed up to work together. After the fire, my grandparents decided not to rebuild back there, and instead moved everything to the warehouse, where the business is still running successfully today. It took a long time before we could pay off and recover everything that was lost, but we did it. In a way, the fire has brought us closer together and made us all stronger. As a family, we have gotten back on our feet.





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