Last night was unforgettable. Tara and I were relaxing on the couch when we were interrupted by an urgent pounding on the door. I opened it to find my neighbor in a bit of a panic. “The building’s on fire!” she said.
You always wonder how you’re going to react in times of danger. I’d assumed if a fire was threatening my life, I’d gather my pet(s) and child(ren). Maybe grab some important papers or mementoes. Instead, my first reaction? I dashed over to my laptop and updated my Facebook status. I typed, Umm…our building is on fire…
Scaring a lot of friends in the process. Hell, when I typed that, I believed that our building was on fire. I’d hurried outside after my neighbor, and saw thick gray smoke pouring from what appeared to be the end unit of our building. We’re on the far (opposite) end of an 8-unit townhouse in a condominium complex with sixteen buildings. So I fired off that Facebook status update while Tara, perhaps more wisely, began packing a bag of belongings.
Hey, there’s a reason they’ve got me doing a presentation on social media at the big company symposium this September.
A moment later, we discovered our building wasn’t the one on fire – it was actually the building next to ours. Thankfully, because the fire spread quickly, and turned into a three-alarm blaze. The way it quickly spread through the attic and across the roof, damaging or destroying nine units and leaving sixteen people homeless, I believe we would have lost everything had it been our building. By then, the FB comments were rolling in.
Your house is on fire, and you’re on Facebook?!?!?! one person asked.
Why, yes. Yes, I am.
The whole neighborhood gathered outside to watch the firefighters battle the blaze. I was impressed by their calmness under fire (literally), and by their courage and professionalism. They had a job to do and they did it, without complaint. Following on the heels of the Arizona wildfire tragedy a few days ago, I am especially thankful for them.
Tara and I were scared for awhile there. At one point, it looked like the fire would blow up out of control, and it could have spread to our building – you never know. Obviously, flames are unpredictable. We started formulating a serious game plan. If forced to evacuate, we would grab the cat first, and then the laptops. Our record collection. Maybe a few lava lamps. A handful of clothes. Tara had brought the fireproof safety box downstairs, which confused me, because isn’t that the one thing that’s safe to leave behind? Then again, it contains valuables, so I get it.
Despite the gravity of the situation, I couldn’t help but chuckle over some of the Facebook comments, even while I continued to upload photos as the event unfolded. What can I say? My friends know me well.
Ummm…remember school fire drills? Yeah, DO THAT!!
Stop drinking and stop, drop and roll.
Too bad it’s not bbq day or roasted marshmallow day. You’d be set!
Too many lava lamps?
Was that your bottle rocket, Mark?
So, a pretty scary evening, and not one we had envisioned. By 10 PM the fire was contained and things began settling down, so we headed back inside, only my brain refused to rest and I spend several hours tossing and turning before finally drifting off to sleep. Not surprisingly, I dreamed of fires and natural disasters. I should sleep good tonight, though – and then I’ve got four days off. Haven’t had that long a stretch since Christmas. Hell, I’ve only ever had one three-day weekend this whole year. I welcome the break!
Here are some pics of last night’s fire and this morning’s aftermath.