Book about a Portland house fire that killed 5 people.
Text, images and book by Vivian Ewing
I found a message stapled to a telephone pole by the site. It said: “Was it beautiful to lie in bed and see the ceiling on fire through a smoldering cloud of ash? Did he remember hot summers when it seemed like the sun had set the whole sky on fire, illuminating the earth but wilting life, making people sweat just lying down? Did he pause there in his house on fire before he opened his eyes to feel his cheeks or his forehead, wondering if he had a fever or if he could rouse himself from a fever dream? Was his bed wet with seat like it had been each morning that July and August? Or did the house fire simply ignite instincts of survival?
The note when on to say:
“We know he shook his sedated friend for ten seconds before he came to and the two boys climbed onto the back porch through a window. We know they jumped from the second floor but we don’t know if it was immediate or if they took a breath before the jump.
Maybe they had a second to feel the cold fall air on their front and the murky heat on their backs. Maybe there was a moment when one looked to the other and considered stepping back inside the girls that had at this point already died of smoke inhalation.
We don’t know, but we do know that they did jump, critically injuring their legs. By the time they hit the ground the sun had set. The other houses on the street had cooled throughout the late afternoon but were growing warmer from the fire.
One boy was picked up by the ambulances that arrived minutes later but one was not. One was overlooked somehow and staggered to the pavement which was still wet and laid with his face on the ground for fifteen or twenty minutes. He was so hot, maybe from the flames on his ceiling and the hot smoke in his lungs but also, maybe from the rush of remembering heat on his body on evenings before this one.
Maybe his insides felt like they too had been lit like the field he set ablaze as a child. This burning feeling had been instilled in him when an older man had walked by him when the fire was just the size of a watermelon and said, ‘I remember that feeling, so much power in your hands. How eerily familiar the sound of the dry grass crackling.’ “