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Updated on August 29, 2011

episode 5

David and Chris were busy cleaning the kitchen while some of the others were busy washing the trucks down. It had been an unusually quiet morning and they wanted to take advantage of it to catch up on some cleaning. David was just telling Chris they should see who was the best cook amongst them and have them enter one of those national cook-offs when with a rumble the firehouse and everything in it began to shake. Things tumbled off shelves and cabinets and crashed to the floor. The guys tried to keep their footing as they ran for doorways to park themselves under. The alarm began soon after the quake did, but they couldn't respond until the quake stopped. As soon as the quake stopped, the men jumped into their gear and headed for the first address the Dispatch gave them. The address they were sent to was a gas pipe in a house that broke due to the quake and caused a small explosion and fire in an apartment building. By the time they got to that address, the quake had caused even more old apartment building set to be demolished had collapsed, and they were now being told there had been several kids playing in there as well as a few homeless people who lived in there. Captain Chamberlain called in a nearby firehouse and asked for reinforcements, but was told they were unable to come, that they themselves had had to call for help and been told the same thing they were now telling Captain Chamberlain...There were to many emergencies and not enough emergency workers.

Captain Chamberlain told his men they were on their own on this one. He then had to make a difficult decision...what building to send searchers into first. He decided to send them into the burning building first. Theoretically, if there were anyone still living in there, they would run out of time first. So he sent David, Ben and Abe in as well as the hose crews. He sent the ladder crew up the face of the building to work the fire from the outside. This was thankfully a small apartment building, only three stories high, having only eighteen apartments total in it. Starting from the ground floor, the rescue team went from one apartment to the next looking for living people. The blast was contained within the building, and most of the ground floor was destroyed. They found no one alive, mostly just bits and pieces. They moved up to the second floor and began searching there. Parts of this floor were also gone. They had to use great caution as the floor was very unstable. They found no one alive on this floor. They moved on to the third floor. In the room farthest from the blast and closest to the street, they found one survivor, and only because she was crying...a mattress had fallen over her. She was an infant, maybe close to a year old. David put his oxygen over her face and carried her. As they were working their way back out, there was a crash and Abe suddenly disappeared. Ben stopped David from approaching the hole and told him he needed to get that baby outside, that he, Ben, had the best chance of anyone of finding his brother.

So David hurried out, but told the Captain, over the radio what happened. When he got outside, there were two ambulances waiting. He took the baby to one of them. He got quite a surprise, because one of the Paramedics just happened to be the woman who came to thank him on behalf of the elderly folk of the nursing home. This made him suddenly shy. When he handed the baby over to her, he suddenly felt like he didn't know anything. Suddenly he remembered that Abe had fallen through the hole, and he turned and rushed back into the building, leaving the woman rather confused, but busy dealing with the baby. David finally found Ben. He had found Abe and was trying to lift some heavy material off of him. David moved in beside him, and together they were able to shift it. Once it was removed, Abe was able to get up and the three of them made there way out of the building. Abe had fallen when the floor had given way beneath him, he had a fairly cushioned landing thanks to landing on a bed that collapsed under his impact, but then he had been trapped by the weight of the debris that had landed on top of him. Now that they were all safely out of the building, the men working on the fire had it nearly out.

As soon as they took a breather, David, Ben and Abe and the Captain went over to the collapsed building and looked it over. They had to decide how to approach searching it without causing further collapse. The Captain called the LAPD and asked if they had any SAR dogs available, as they had a collapsed building with a possibility of three kids and several adults trapped inside. LAPD said they could spare two and would send them over as soon as they could get them there. David sensed someone standing next to him and looking over saw it was the woman. He started to get flustered again, but she gave him a smile and told him he did good with the baby, she was going to be just fine, she was on her way to the hospital now. That made him feel good, to know the baby would be ok, and took his mind off his awkwardness. He told her he was glad to hear that. He told her he never got to know what her name was. She gave a short laugh and said that sounded just like her, she would forget her head if it wasn't attached. And so she introduced herself...Isabella Chaneu. David got lost in thought, tasting the name, saying it over and over in his mind, thinking how fitting such a beautiful name was for such a beautiful woman. Eventually her voice breaks through his thoughts..."Mr. Blake. Mr. Blake". "Huh? Please call me David." Ok, David, but I think your friends over there are waiting for you". And she points over to Ben and Abe and the Captain, who have approached the building and are calling him. "Oh, thank you, Isabella." and he runs over to the others. He doesn't see Isabella's eyes sparkling, or the soft smile that she has. The Captain asks David if he needs some water on his fire. At first he doesn't get it, then he realizes the Captain is referring to his attraction to Isabella, and he becomes completely embarrassed. No sir, he says. Then please keep your attention on the work at hand, son, says the Captain, in a not unkindly voice. Yes sir.

The Captain sends them as a team to work grid patterns in the top and easiest to get to areas of the collapse, calling and reaching into holes and searching with powerful flashlights, while waiting for the search dogs. Once they had done that, They began the harder job of shifting material and digging. By this time they had the help of the rest of the crew, as the fire was finally out. The Captain had called in digging equipment as well, so when they got to the stuff to big or heavy to lift, they moved the heavy machinery in and began the delicate job of shifting and moving the material while searching for life. Finally, in the early evening hours, one of the dogs began barking and yelping furiously. Everyone scrambled for the area. They began moving rocks and metal rods and anything else their hands came into contact with until the Captain shouted out, "I have something". for a second, everything and everyone stopped. The Captain took his glove off and felt what he had, up and down and determined he had an arm, and it belonged to a child, and more importantly, there was warmth and suppleness to the arm, meaning the child was still alive. There was cheering all around and a renewed effort at digging. The Captain had to remind everyone to be careful in their enthusiasm and eagerness to get the child out. Finally, they had him completely uncovered, and Ben jumped up to run and get a backboard only to find Isabella already there with one. He thanked her with a smile and turned back to the others, and they put the child on it and Ben and Abe carried him over to one of the waiting ambulances while the rest of the crew went back to searching. It took ten minutes to find the second body. It to was a child. This time there was no cheering in the group as they extricated the child. They moved the body away from the building and continued searching. The next find took thirty - nine minutes and was a woman in her fifties. She had somehow landed or ended up in a pocket or protected area, besides a deep cut on her head, all she suffered from was a broken arm.

It was after midnight by the time they finished searching. There had been two small aftershocks, just very small tremors, and they had found two more adults, both male, both dead, and one more child, a girl, also dead. It had been a very emotional day for them all. They were physically exhausted and mentally and emotionally drained as well. David, despite his exhaustion, could not sleep. He stepped outside to get some fresh air. His emotions were like a volcano inside, he could feel them building up but he did not know how to release them. There had been so many lives lost that day. It was easier to deal with adults dying, but so hard for him to deal with it when the kids died. He was just standing there, leaning up against the firehouse wall with his eyes closed, trying to get his emotions back under control, when he felt soft hands take his. He opened his eyes and looked down into the hazel eyes of Isabella's . It was funny how he had never noticed before how eyes could say so much. "I thought you might need me" she tells him now. "I do" he replies, and embraces her. And in that embrace, his emotional turmoil calms down. He knows that he needs her, not just now, but for always. "I don't know what it is about you, but when you are here, I'm ok. Please..." "Please what?" "I don't know. I don't have any right to ask anything of you." "Then I will give it to you. I belong to you David. You know it and I know it. I knew it the moment I first saw you. That is why I can give you such comfort, and it isn't one way, I came here tonight because I needed comfort after today. As soon as I touched you, I felt calm inside." "Yeah, me to." And so they embraced, and kissed and drew comfort from each other.

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