FINKSBURG — The flames that burned in Alice Pickett's mind several weeks ago when she wrote a poem to honor firefighters were imaginary.
But the ones that destroyed the 55-year-old Louisville Road woman's home Thursday were real.
A widow who lived alone in the two-story house with tan siding, Pickett enjoys writing poems about things that touch her heart.
At Christmas, Pickett, a 20-year veteran mail carrier at the Finksburg Post Office, wrote a prayer and a poem for the families of the young men and women who served in Operation Desert Storm.
And when she heard about the sixth annual Fallen Heroes Day celebrated May 3 in Timonium, Baltimore County, to honor Maryland police, firefighters and correctional officers who died in the line of duty last year, Pickett again was inspired to write. "Their part includes much to help us at our time of need or disaster," she penned, to honor firefighters' hardwork and dedication. "Our part is really just to dial their phone number, give our request and wait for their soon arrival."
Pickett caught an unfortunate glimpse of that hard work around
11:30 a.m. Thursday when she arrived at her 50-year-old home to find it engulfed in flames.
She had been on her rounds delivering mail when a neighbor told Pickett she heard her home was on fire.
"The firemen werehere when I got here and you could see the smoke and flames in the house," she said. "I told them all I wanted from inside the house was my Bible."
Deputy State Fire Marshal Frank Rauschenberg retrieved the Bible from Pickett's home.
Although Pickett seemed calm about the extent of the fire's destruction, she said she was amazed at the irony of her most recent poem.
"I can't believe it," she said. "A few weeks ago I heard on the radio that they were going to honor fallen firefighters and the Lord just laid this poem on my heart."
Shesaid she wanted to thank firefighters because a year ago, emergency personnel helped her son who had wrecked his motorcycle in the woods near her home.
The fire at Pickett's home caused an estimated $100,000 damage, said Rauschenberg, who declared the home unsafe.
It took 35 firefighters from seven companies almost two hours to bring the blaze under control, said Lt. Richard Green of the Gamber VolunteerFire Co.
Almost all of Pickett's possessions were destroyed in the fire, or were blackened with soot.
Rauschenberg said he believedthe fire was from electrical causes. The fire marshal told Pickett he thought the fire had been smoldering in a closet through the night and that she was lucky not to have suffered smoke inhalation.
"These are just things; they can be replaced," said Pickett, who watched while family members and friends carried objects from the home. "I just thank God for sparing my life."