Response to fire was typical for caring couple

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It was typical Walt and Jean Sehnert.

After firefighters had spent several hours battling a fire on the second floor of their lovely home on East First in McCook, Thursday evening, emergency crews enjoyed food and drink catered in from the bakery, now operated by their son, the Sehnerts purchased 50 years ago.

Walt enjoys local fame as a weekly columnist on this page Mondays -- "From Days Gone By," telling stories about his adopted hometown to his own and future generations.

Walt said the meals were someone else's idea, the staff of the Bieroc Cafe part of the bakery, who had a concert Thursday night and prepared the food.

But that kind of caring and sharing attitude starts at the top.

It was sad to see firefighters throwing smoldering piles of books and clippings from the upstairs study where Walt taps out those columns without fail, e-mailing them without fail to the computer being used to produce this page. Readers will understand if the column is missing for a while.

Jean is famous as an musician, playing piano for any excuse, and even writing original music. They are the life of community events like the Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival and other cultural events. We don't know the extent of damage to her piano or sheet music collection; we don't want to think about it.

Fire was an especially cruel assault on gentle people like the Sehnerts, fracturing as did the link between the past and future in their music, writing and stories. Cruel in the stress it causes for those who should have a chance to slow down and enjoy life.

But everyone is safe, and we know their family and friends will pitch in to make their recovery as easy as possible. If a fraction of the people the Sehnerts have shown kindness to over the years offer to help in return, they will be back on their feet in no time.

An electrical short was thought to have caused the fire in the Sehnert home, but there are a wide variety of other hazards that can manifest themselves in fires other dangers as cold weather arrives.

Have your furnace checked out to make sure it is operating safely and efficiently, and keep a stock of emergency supplies, water and warm clothing on hand in case the power supply is interrupted.

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