I spoke to my parents two days ago, they had just experienced a fire disaster.

My parents are living in a town surrounded by mountains, a river and a deep harbour. It is in the NE of Fujian province, China. I was born and brought up in the town, so was my father and grandfather.

In fact, the three generations of my family were born in the same house. It was this  house which burned down, due to a fire accident from aneighbour’s house. Luckily no one was hurt.

The house was a timber house, it was a traditional Chinese architectural house with good feng shui layout. The house is called 四合院 (si he yuan), it is a small feature of the Forbiden city in Beijing. The house is an armchair shape, sitting east facing west. The grand entrance has a door barrier to keep the Qi inside the house, there was a front yard, a center hall, and a back hall; toilets were separated from the main house, rooms were on the left and right sides of the centre hall, the kitchen was in the back of the house. The house was large compared to our modern standard, it was passed on to my father and uncle by my grandparents. This type of house is becoming fewer in China, it represents a part of Chinese culture. It was an interesting house from a modern point of view.

The house has stood there for almost a century. It has been maintained, but is still quite old. Both my father and uncle have built new houses on the vacant land behind the house. Since then, the old house has been used to host special events, such as weddings or other celebrations.

A few days ago, a neighbour’s house burst into fire, with a gas explosion, the fire spread very fast, it reached our house and was burning aggressively. My parents were shocked, but luckily, the fire ceased just before my parents new house. Fortunate, but still very sad.

Four houses were burnt down, including our 四合院。

In feng shui, based on the cycle of five elements, wood feeds fire, so a timber house is destined to burn. In China, most palaces, temples were burned down during wars or accidents. Our house could not escape from its fate. Perhaps, it is time to put up something new.