Thursday, June 21, 2012

Story of the fire

Tuesday night my wife and I were lying in bed, watching the 10 p.m. episode of House Hunters, when we heard beeping noises outside our condo's window. At first it sounded like a truck was backing up, over and over, but it quickly became evident that no truck could be backing up that long.

Then we heard shouts.

Now, the building next to ours (which is literally 15 feet outside our bedroom window) has occasionally had some loud conversations late at night—thankfully not very often, but shouts are not entirely unprecedented. However, the shouts weren't between two people arguing or something; they were panicked.

We looked through the blinds of the bedroom window and we couldn't see the building only 15 feet away because there was smoke. We then heard people crying "Help!" I went to the balcony off the living room and the smell was getting stronger. I leaned out and looked down the passway between the buildings and saw that the ground-level unit at the far end of the next building had flamed shooting at least six to eight feet into the air coming from the window. My wife had come out of the bedroom and I said, "It's serious." She immediately dialed 911, but the fire had been reported. In fact, by the time she was talking to the operator we heard the sirens.

Luckily, we live only a few blocks from the main fire station in town. We often hear the sirens passing by, so loud we must pause the TV, but in this case it wasn't a bother; it was marvelously welcome. Still, even with the fire department on scene, we put on clothes, because with the proximity of the buildings the flames wouldn't have far to go to get on our side.

Even without flames on our side, the smoke had filled the courtyard area of our building, and she dared not go outside into that, lest she have an asthma attack, so I went down to the street to check it out. The street adjacent to the opposite side of the next building was filled with five fire engines and a paramedic ambulance. Still, more fire engines kept arriving, and eventually there were, by my count, nine.

There were ladders up to the second floor unit windows, but anyone evacuated that way was already down. I stayed down on the corner to stay out of the way, but it appeared they'd gotten everyone out and the fire itself contained. My wife could see from our bedroom window what was going on in the back, and it did appear they got the fire out fairly quickly; it didn't spread farther than the unit where it started. She called me on my cell and told me how they were spraying some substance (which she could smell), presumably something to quell any further flames. At this point I went back up to our unit, as several of the fire engines started to leave, with the situation under control. I saw no people being attended to by paramedics so it appeared they got everyone out without injury, thank goodness.

We heard helicopters overhead, presumably from local news stations, but by this point there wasn't much to see; we flipped on the 11:00 news but there was no mention.

We were glad that the situation didn't escalate into something newsworthy.

1 comment:

  1. But if you leave your kid in the car alone for five minutes, guaranteed you'll be famous on the evening news. It's all about perspective.


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