At the end of summer Robert was watching the news on TV, comfortable in his chair. Anne and Sarah were cooking in the kitchen. Robert sat up. He smelled smoke. What were the girls cooking? He chuckled to himself. It wasn't the first time Anne had burned something. He was about to stand up when Sarah ran into the room screaming at the top of her lungs..."The forest is on fire!"
Robert sprang from his chair. If the forest was on fire that meant he needed to break out the hoses. They had a scare like this a few years ago way back in the woods. Some children had been playing with matches and started a fire. It hadn't rained in weeks so the forest was dry and it didn't take long to build into a forest fire. Robert had volunteered to help and it took everyone working on the fire 3 days to contain it. They lost over 100 trees in the forest. This was deja vu all over again. He learned from that experience the quicker that water gets on the surrounding area, the quicker the fire will be put out.
Anne and Sarah were outside, in the back yard, watching the smoke get closer to the house. Robert brought the hoses and connected them to the waterline. He didn't hear any crackling of a fire, yet, but the smoke was getting thicker. He handed a hose to Anne who quickly started watering the back grass.
"Don't forget to water my tree house mommy," Robert heard Sarah telling her mother. "Oh... I need to get my things out of the tree house before it all burns." She ran to the tree house and scampered up the ladder so fast that Robert didn't even have time to grab her. The smoke consumed the tree house and he ran to grab her. He didn't want his little girl getting that smoke in her lungs.
"There's no time Sarah. Leave it all be. We can get more stuff, but there's only one YOU," he yelled to her. The crackling of the fire reached his ears. That was not good. It meant the fire was getting closer. "Sarah, come out of that tree house NOW... hurry... the fire is getting closer," a concerned mother yelled. A few moments later Sarah's head popped out of the tree house door coughing. Robert climbed the ladder and carried her down and then laid her on the grass. She clung to her favorite doll as her father scolded her.
"That was too close Sarah... Promise me you won't go back in the tree house. No matter what... PROMISE me!" Robert was stern to his daughter, but it was for her own good. "I promise daddy," Sarah cried. Anne wiped the smoke from Sarah's eyes and washed her face with a cloth. Her little girl was safe. This was all too real.
As the fire worked its way closer to the house, in the distance the family could hear the fire trucks coming up the street. It wasn't long before the fire department had closed off the road to everyone. A fireman met Robert with hose in hand. He ordered Robert to get the girls to safety.
Anne and Sarah were pushed to the front of the house. Sarah looked back to see her tree house one last time. She knew it would not be there the next time she visited the back yard. Tears were still in her eyes as she pleaded with her father.
"Daddy... Don't let the tree house burn. Pleeeeeeeeeeease Daddy!"
"I can't promise Sarah. Fires have a mind of their own. But I will try my best... Promise." Robert gave his little girl a kiss and she went off with her mother to safety.
Robert battled the fire with a hose in each hand. He and the other firemen watered down the house and every now and then Robert would turn and water the tree house too. The fire was getting closer. He could see the flames now in the forest. Sparks fell to the dry forest floor and within minutes giant flames rose from their embers. All he could do was wet the ground around the tree and soak the wood of the tree house.
He turned the hose back to his house. A tiny spark landed on the roof. It found a dry patch and started a fire. In a matter of minutes the roof was a blaze. It took Robert's hoses and 2 other fireman's to get the fire out. When the roof battle was over Robert turned his attention to the tree house, but to his dismay it was already engulfed in flames. Sparks danced everywhere.
Robert ran to the tree house and engulfed it in water. He managed to save the tree, but there was nothing left of the tree house when the fire was out. Sarah would be hurt. There was nothing more he could do.
It took the fireman another day to contain the forest fire. Robert worked at their side calming each fire he was tasked to handle. At the end of the day the only casualty was the tree house. They had managed to save the neighborhood homes. A few were charred and, like Roberts house, roofs had been burned but they were still a neighborhood. All the men of the neighborhood had stuck together to fight the fires. In the end, the men had won over the fire. They all cheered as the last flames smoldered out.
Another day later Anne and Sarah returned home to see the damage. Sarah cried at the sight of her tree house.
"Gone...It's all gone daddy," she cried.
"I'm sorry Sarah. I tried my best to stop the fire from reaching the tree house. I did manage to save the tree though. We can build you another one next spring. The main thing is we still have a home." Robert was heartbroken for his little girl. He gave her a hug and Anne joined in too. The family hug felt good, after the battle he had just finished fighting.
The next spring, as promised, Robert and the girls worked on another tree house. It was bigger and better than the first, and it fit the old tree like a glove. When it was finished Robert looked at his little girl and smiled. He was glad that he could fulfill a Childs Dream!