This happened last night - about 3 miles from my house. We could hear explosion and then the roar of the fire, which resulted in evacuation orders for the neighborhood next to ours to the south. A gas main blew up, and it made a crater in the ground 18 feet deep, they say. Surveillance video shows explosion, massive fire in Orion Twp. I saw the fire column hundreds of feet in the air at the end of our cul-de-sac. Because the explosion also knocked out 911 and all the non-emergency numbers to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, we could not reach out to them to find out status and if we should consider leaving. So we went through our preparedness list. We got out the cat carriers and got the dog leashes and food and so on ready. We got dressed although it was 10:30 PM at night and we had been about to go to bed. We found lodging for the night a safe distance away if we had decided to leave. I sent my employer a quick email and packed up my work-related items. We grabbed the essential clothing and hygiene items. We had the route planned the we would take north to escape the situation to the south. As it turned out, the gas company was able to shut off the gas main and the fire went out almost immediately - but it took nearly two hours for that to happen. What did we learn? Couple things. First, my neighbors were paralyzed with indecision. They stood around and kept saying "What? what?" because they could not get their heads around the idea of what had happened. It was as if they could not believe the evidence of their own eyes and ears. They would have died, period. Too stupid to live. This is what happens when you do not prepare. Sorry, s'fact. I talked to them, tried to explain what was happening (once I knew myself what it was) and they simply could not comprehend it. The very idea of evacuation was something they simply were not capable of processing. Second, we missed some items in our preparedness. Vital documents were not readily available and would have been abandoned. I'm talking about birth certificates, passports, work ID cards, military documents, power of attorney for my elderly mom, insurance papers, checkbooks, etc. We missed that. We will fix it. Third, we had not established clear lines of authority. In these situations, one person is in charge; period. There is no discussion. If I am the person in charge, and I say we go, we go. No doddling, no fumfering around, no arguing. I say go, we go. If that person is not me, then I do what I am told, and with a quickness. That has also been fixed. Finally, it all became less theoretical last night. I could hear and see death; we were lucky that it stayed where it was and didn't come for us. If it had, time would have been short. Not everyone gets that much time to deliberate. If you think it can't happen to you, think again. This sort of thing is rare; but it happens and people die. All the preparedness in the world may not save you; but then again, it might. And if you don't prepare, you get what you get. As I've often mentioned on MT, in my opinion, self-defense includes preparedness. Like having an escape plan in case of fire, having fire extinguishers and knowing how to use them, simple stuff like that. It's great to be able to break a neck elventy-dozen ways with your hoo-hoo-fu style, but if you can't quickly bug out of your neighborhood when the gas main blows up and the houses start to burn, it's not much use to you, is it? My 2 cents for today.