Fire is a good servant, helping us with the cooking and providing warmth during those chilly winter nights, but it can also be a bad master when we underestimate its destructive power. It's for this reason that fire needs to be handled with care. Playing with it can be dangerous, and at times can also prove fatal to those unfortunate enough to find themselves in its path. Our next-door neighbours were lucky in that nobody was injured, but the same thing cannot be said about their beloved house. Although it's been ten years now, I can still remember the whole thing as if it were yesterday, and each time, the thought of that terrifying episode makes my blood run cold.
It was a hot stuffy summer night when it all took place. Back then air-conditioners were not a common sight, so everyone had no choice but to resort to leaving the windows wide open at night to let the breeze in. Not that one could have used the air-conditioner that night anyway - there was a power cut, which in turn also explains the cause of the fire. From accounts following the incident, it seems that it all started because of an oil lamp that had been left on a cupboard in the sitting room downstairs. A strong gust of wind must have come in through the window, knocking the oil lamp over onto the curtain, which burst into flames in no time. The fresh breeze from the open windows kept feeding the hungry flames, which continued eating away at the walls and furniture. The fire spread quickly and soon the sofa, carpets and furniture were ablaze.
It was the acrid smell of burning that woke up the occupants of the house from their dreams, to an even worse nightmare. They jumped out of their beds, ran downstairs, and made a dash for the door, but they were stopped in their tracks when part of the ceiling came crushing down in front of them, blocking their only way of escape. It was then that their heart missed a beat, realising for the first time that they were trapped. They remained frozen still,...
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