Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Monday, August 28, 2006

Burn, Baby, Burn!

So there was a fire in my building a few weeks ago. I sorta glossed over it because I was still feeling pretty bad from my food poisoning episode and it was still a somewhat surreal incident. A lot of you picked up on the irony since I had only just moved into this concrete fortress after living in a fire trap for over 6 years.

That old house would have gone up in flames in seconds and I literally had nightmares that I would come home to smoking rubble and Yoshi would have perished. I dreamed about trying to run into the burning house to save her but that people held me back. I had an escape plan figured out. Right under the bed was a small knapsack big enough to stuff Yoshi in so I could manage the rickety fire escape with both hands free. I had decided if I had to save my neighbour’s two cats I would stuff them in pillow cases and hope her dog would be ok tossed off the roof onto the soft grass. We’d had a couple of near misses with stupid tenants as well as stupid friends of tenants doing stupid things like setting fireworks off on the porch or throwing cigarette butts from windows onto the roof. Our electrical wiring was really dodgy and our clothes dryer even caught on fire once. Fortunately somebody was right there when it happened and put it out.

Not only did I worry but my parents worried too. They didn’t say much about it but I knew they worried.

Of course moving to the new pad was a great relief because it was concrete and there were sprinklers in every suite and the tenants were mature adults and not stoned and drunk party savages. I put the knapsack away and forgot all about fire.


So picture this.

That Saturday morning around 9 am I was laying in bed totally fucked over by this food poisoning thing. I mean like laying there hardly having the strength to get out of bed. Seriously weak and dehydrated having not eaten for 4 days or being able to keep anything down. Far off in the distance I heard somebody’s smoke detector. A persistent “Eeeeeeeeeeee,” noise in the background. I didn’t think much of it as it being summer everybody has their balcony doors and windows open so you occasionally hear when somebody sets theirs off with burnt toast or something. Then I heard my upstairs neighbour running back and forth which was very unusual in a concrete building. Normally you don’t hear your neighbours at all. “Running to get the toast out of the toaster,” I thought but I did start to feel a bit uneasy. Just a little.

Then I heard somebody on the street exclaim, “LOOK! A fire! A real fire!” and at that very moment the fire alarm went off.


I have to admit I was feeling so crappy I considered just laying there and letting a sexy fireman carry me out.

But I didn’t. I got my poisoned ass up and, shaking like a leaf with weakness, grabbed Yoshi and stuffed her in her basket. I got my keys and my purse and my cell phone and left my apartment wondering if it would be in the same state when I returned because by this time I had clued in that the fire was in the apartment above mine and who knew what damage I would come home to.

Out in the hallway was a helpful guy yelling “FIRE!” and I walked past him to the fire stairs and that is when I heard a woman screaming. I started walking down the stairs, wearing the same pjs I had been wearing for 4 days and behind me were two guys supporting a woman who was absolutely hysterical. They were telling her that everything was ok and that the firemen would take care of everything. Yep! It was the fire starter herself. The cause of this mass exodus.

At this point adrenaline took over for me as I could smell smoke and I just wanted to get down those stairs so I could find a place to sit down as I thought I might pass out with weakness. One floor down my way was blocked by an old lady with a black dog. The dog was freaking and caught half way through the fire door. The lady was freaking too saying the dog didn’t know how to go down stairs. I asked her if she could carry the dog and she tearfully said no. I knew I sure as hell couldn’t do it so I not so gently (but still lovingly and with great respect) planted my foot on that dog’s ass and forced it down the stairs. Fortunately it was a fast learner and got the hang of negotiating steps almost immediately.

Yet probably another inappropriate action towards a defenseless animal on my part but I just couldn’t let that lady and her dog block the stairs.

We all made it down to the lobby and the firemen were already there. I sat down outside and just watched for a little bit. Lots of people, lots of pets, lots of housecoats and pyjamas. I was not the only one looking like a freak. Then the news cameras came. I averted my face. The Pyro Lady was hysterical and was carted off in an ambulance. I saw two really nice guys carrying an old lady on oxygen out of the building. There are a lot of old sick people in this place. I felt bad for them and that I was too sick to help. All I saw was a hell of a lot of smoke. The fire dudes were up on their cherry picker contraption aiming water at the balcony. It turns out that is where the fire was. Caused by a cigarette. Not cool.

I called my parents and my dad drove over to get Yoshi and me. I knew I couldn’t wait around in the hot sun feeling like I did. We laid on their bed for a couple hours resting while everything went on at the apartment building.

My dad went to check out my apartment and reported back to me that it was completely untouched. No smoke smell even. So I packed up Yoshi and we got driven home. I went right back to bed and it was sorta like it never happened.

We have had a couple false alarms where I have had to pack up the cat and go down those stairs again. I guess new buildings all have problems working out the bugs in their fire systems. We have been assured that every apartment is an individual envelope and that fire could not spread. The sprinklers would put out a fire immediately as well.

But I bought Yoshi a new very secure carrier and it is placed in an easily accessible location. I am sure now she won’t get frightened and break out of her basket like she almost did on one of the false alarms. My keys and purse are always right by the front door in case I need to make a speedy exit. Every night I place clothes on the floor next to my bed in case the alarm goes off. I am more nervous than in the old house. So is Yoshi. She hides under the bed now when she hears the alarm sound.

It is a shame that it happened. Yet it has brought the tenants closer together. We have had safety meetings and know who on our floor needs assistance. My neighbours are really good people. If it happens again we will be there for each other. That part is pretty cool.

Nothing some bleach and a little elbow grease can't get out.


hemlock said...

Oh shit, Kranki!!! That's scary!

So glad you made it out OK... even though you were feeling like utter crap!

Closet Metro said...

You have put "disco inferno" in my head. I may never forgive you for this toxic earworm.

happy and blue 2 said...

Glad you and Yoshi were not injured..
It will be easier for pizza delivery guys to find your apartment now. You can tell them it's the one under the burnt part..

snaps79 said...

Holy cow, what a close call. I've had many visions the same thing happening while I'd be at work, and I, TOO, have envisioned that I'd rush into my apartment and save all three of my fur bags. Your new apartment looks very chic, however, smoke damage on the outside or not.

In other news, sorry I haven't been checking in over here. Since moving and switching computers, I've been out of sync. Hope all is well. :)

Bucky Four-Eyes said...

We worry about herding 12 cats and two pony-sized dogs anywhere in an emergency here, too. But I'm so glad I don't live in an apartment building where one moron with an errant cigarette can start this shit.

Glad everyone is OK, though!

Oh, and you asked about the Mac Mini:

Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Oops, how 'bout I make it a link:

Mac Mini

Sharkey said...

"Fortunately it was a fast learner and got the hang of negotiating steps almost immediately." That line cracked me up. Even in a near-disaster, you're funny.

Glad everything turned out okay.

JessicaRabbit said...

Geez lady, I dont think I can move to your building, can you picture me trying to do that with 12 cats and 2 saint betards?

Ok try picturing it, maybe it will make you smile.

Glad you two are ok.

JP said...

It really is amazing how much the adrenaline enables you to do even when you feel like shit!! I'm glad you learned the dog to negotiate steps. That's too funny! Glad you are OK and your place was untouched. How scary!!

eclectic said...

That's wild stuff, Kranki! Be safe and well, eh?

alan said...

I am still much happier with you in your new abode instead of the matchbox you used to live in! False alarms may be a pain, but having you able to get out when the real thing comes is a comfort...

With my fear of heights, there's no way I'll be repaining that for anyone!



LadyBug said...

Yikes. Pretty scary stuff. So glad you and Yoshi are okay.

Candace said...

But, wow. That picture really does show that they're serious about that "envelope" thing.

Scary. I think, though, that you'll start feeling more comfortable soon. You have a plan and you have everything you need to implement that plan.

Squirl said...

So glad you're safe. No one would've been in your old place. Good thinking, that well-placed foot on the dog's ass. Who loves pets more than you do. ;)

stampydurst said...

Glad everything worked out o.k. I lived in a cool old apartment building which had been recently modernized. While it was supposedly "fire safe", the smoke detectors were extra sensitive (just to make sure, I guess). We also went through a period where they went off frequently. Always, it seemed, in the wee hours of the morning (little chance of burnt toast being the culprit). One time, after wrangling a 110 pound yellow lab down the stairs in my pjs, I looked over and saw something most unfortunate - a girl doing the fire alarm "walk of shame". EVERYONE else was in bathrobes. She was in a minidress and heels, clutching her purse. Egads.

kalki said...

Picturing you negotiating a rickety fire escape with Yoshi stuffed into a knapsack on your back is cracking me up! Not to mention you tossing the neighbor's dog off the roof. Not because of the situation (which would obviously suck) but because of the way you tell it. So hysterical. And that you had thought through it all, complete with the people holding you back from going in to save Yoshi - I do that, too.

What this has taught me, though, is that I should do a fire drill with the cats. Just to get them used to the alarm and pillow-case stuffing.

Dima said...

Glad you made it ok out of there. Gotta appreciate the buildings that are not more than 50% wood. That's not too bad of a damage.
I guess I live close enough to the ground that Suki can theoretically jump out of the apartment if thre was a fire when I'm not home. But then again, this is the same cat that walks back and forth along the edge of the bed until she gets enough courage to jump off it.

east village idiot said...

Kranki - that is crazy! I'm so sorry to hear about the fire. You handled yourself like a pro. Thank God you could get out of bed.