While driving, when you hear the sirens, you get out of the way.
While living in America in 2010, when you hear the sirens, sometimes you need to think about those who are waiting for help to arrive.
This morning, in Northern Virginia, it was a young mother and her children.
Tonight, she and two of her children, boys ages 3 and 5, are dead.
Apparently because they lit candles in their home because they could not afford electricity.
“I took her to buy candles last night because they didn’t have any electric.”
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. ~ Leo Tolstoy
I’m not sure this is true any more, really. So many unhappy families in America are unhappy for the same reasons – they are struggling to keep any sort of roof over their heads, doing whatever they can to feed their families, hoping to find employment of any kind at all.
We all saw the recent horrifying statistics about poverty in America. 50.7 million Americans – one in seven – are living in poverty.
And many more, like this woman and her children in Northern Virginia, are either there or living on the precipice of joining them.
As fire started to devastate her townhouse Wednesday morning, a Fairfax County mother of five lowered three of her children from a second-story window to safety, fire officials said. But then the blaze became too intense, and the woman and her two remaining sons were killed.
The three surviving children - a 2-month-old girl and 6- and 8-year-old boys - and a man who lived in the townhouse on Hagel Circle in Lorton were taken to the Burn Center at Washington Hospital Center, where their injuries were not considered life-threatening.
The young family had not lived in the townhouse for long, but they had made plenty of friends in the neighborhood. And those friends sat, staggered, outside the burned-out home Wednesday afternoon, horrified at the sudden loss of life.
"She just had a baby girl, and I'm having a girl too," said Nancy Alvera, 22, a neighbor whose children played with the victim's children. "I'm in shock. She was a stay-at-home mom who loved her kids and was there for them all the time."
Tayyaby Piracha said one of the dead children had stayed with her daily at her in-home day care in the Terrace of Gunston community. "Twenty-four hours before, he was with me," Piracha said. "Now he is no more."
She said the mother, in her 20s, was "a very nice lady" but was "upset sometimes" as she struggled with money and health issues. She was unemployed and searching for a job, Piracha said.
Firefighters used a ladder to enter the second floor of the burning townhouse to find the mother and two children, but it was too late . . . .
Neighbor Stacey Wood, 26, said she heard an explosion and thought it was a gunshot. She said she looked outside and saw flames coming from the nearby townhouse. And then she saw the man run outside screaming, calling the woman's name, Wood said.
Wood said that the electricity had gone out in the woman's home several days ago and that she had taken her to buy candles. The woman did not have a phone, Wood said.
Prayers and special thoughts tonight for this Virginia family, and for all those in need.