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Slow Burn (Into The Fire #2)
Author/Writer of Book/Novel:
1974552993 (ISBN13: 9781974552993)
I put out fires for a living.
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“Let me see if I understand you. Your cat got stuck in a tree, so you used your excavator to get him out?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s what I said,” Carrie Dodge explained, her tone exasperated.
I only knew Carrie’s name because that was the second order of business whenever I answered a call at Willow Brook Fire & Rescue. Sadly, I still wasn’t clear on what the nature of Carrie’s emergency was.
“So, is your cat okay?”
Carrie’s sigh came through the line. “Herman is fine. It’s my excavator that’s the problem.”
When I answered a minute ago, Carrie had spoken so quickly, all I’d been able to piece together was something to do with a tree, a cat, and an excavator.
“Tell me what happened to your excavator.”
I waited to hear the excavator had a name. Because this was Alaska and people named their tools and things like that here. I’d only lived here about two years, but I’d quickly come to learn some things were more important than others. Shiny cars—not so much. Excavators or fishing gear—worth their weight in gold.
“Oh, well, it was all fine at first. I got it right up by the tree, and Herman hopped in the bucket no problem. I lowered him to the ground and when I was turning it around, I forgot how close the ditch was and it fell in. I’m stuck inside,” Carrie explained.
Rather calmly, I might add. This was the first mention a human was involved in this emergency beyond the role of an observer.
I tapped the alarm button on my desk. That would alert the crew on duty while I kept Carrie on the line until they arrived at her location. I’d already linked her GPS coordinates to our system. With rapid fire typing, I filled in a summary for the crew to see.
“Are you injured?” I asked Carrie, thinking to myself as long as she was okay, it was almost funny she’d neglected to mention her predicament this far into our call. I’d started out worried about the cat, then the excavator, when lo and behold, she was trapped in an excavator that had fallen in a ditch.
“I think so,” Carrie said with a sigh. “Herman’s looking at me through the window. My shoulder hurts a little.”
“Do you mind if I get some basic info from you while the rescue crew’s headed your way?”
“I suppose not,” Carrie replied with another sigh.
I heard the garage doors opening on the back of Willow Brook’s Fire & Rescue building and the sirens blare. Within seconds, an ambulance was racing past the front windows with a fire truck in its wake.
Carrie was remarkably calm and gave me her information with a few huffs here and there. I sensed she was more annoyed with her situation than with me.
I heard one of the crewmembers radioing to report they were within three minutes. I was the sole dispatcher for Willow Brook Fire & Rescue. Though Willow Brook was a small town in Alaska, nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Alaska Range, its proximity to Anchorage and central location in the state had resulted in its Fire & Rescue crews being one of the hubs in the state. Two interagency hotshot crews ran out of Willow Brook, along with a local crew. All three crews were fully trained for hotshot firefighting, which required intensive training and grueling work. Hotshot teams were sent to the most dangerous, remote fires in the country. Alaska’s sprawling geography lent itself to plenty of fires. The Willow Brook teams mostly served Alaska, however they went wherever they were called. When they weren’t deep in the wilderness fighting wildfires, they handled whatever came up here.
I chatted with Carrie until I heard the crew arrive. As soon as I ended my call with her, my other line beeped, indicating someone from the crew was calling in.
“Hey Maze, what’s the emergency? The cat or the excavator?” Beck Steele asked.
The moment he spoke, I got annoyed. Beck invariably annoyed me. I could practically see him grinning. I gritted my teeth and told myself I’d stay calm and professional.
“Neither. Carrie, the woman calling, is stuck in the excavator. Aren’t you there?” I asked, proud of myself for keeping my voice perfectly level.
“Not yet. Crew says she’s fine by the way. Mind telling me what this has to do with a cat?”
“Her cat was in a tree. She used the excavator bucket to get him out, and then the excavator tipped into a ditch,” I explained.
“Of course. Because it makes perfect sense to use an excavator to get a cat out of a tree,” he said with a low chuckle, his tone dry.
No matter what, Beck managed to get under my skin. Next thing I knew, I was arguing the point.
“It’s not the worst idea. I mean, she got Herman out of the tree,” I countered.