Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Smoke gets in your eyes

Today is Wednesday.  We slept very well last night.

Sunday night and early Monday morning....not so good.
At 3 AM Monday morning the fire alarm went off in our building.
Huh! We thought ... Some wise guy pulled the smoke alarm in the building or somebody left something burning on the stove.
I got up and walked to the front door of our apartment, opened the door and looked out.  It smelled a little strange, like burning plastic.  It was not a strong smell.
I turned to the little French lady. She was on the phone with the doorman, who told her it was not a false alarm. We needed to walk down the stairs to the ground floor.
Yikes, twenty floors down?....Yup.
We got dressed quickly but warmly, thinking we might have to go outside.
When we walked out our front door the smell was noticeably stronger and there was some smoke in the hallway, which  got stronger as we descended the stairs.
We shuffled along with numerous other tenants.  No one was talking. No one was panicking. It was an orderly descent. Impressive!
As we passed the stairway door for the 10th floor, I glanced at the window to the hallway.  It was black with smoke and the odor of smoke was strong.  On our way to the ground floor we saw a few people who seemed to have had less time to prepare than we did. Perhaps they were closer to the fire then we were. One man was wearing only a bathrobe and slippers, no pants, no socks. A woman looked sad and was holding a baby. We felt that we were lucky.
From our floor to the ground, it took us about 4 minutes to get to the ground floor where we exited a side door and crossed the street, where we looked up at our building.

Wow, this is pretty serious.  We could see one apartment had a very bright orange glow. The flames were  leaping out the window and trying to make their way up to the apartment above.   To the left of the burning apartment I could see someone who  was trapped on the balcony, and had no way to exit the apartment.

We watched the ladder trucks get into position to rescue the stranded tenant.  We watched as the firemen worked.  They had the fire out in a few minutes.  Clouds of black smoke billowed out the windows.
We decided to go to McDonalds, which is in the mall across the street from our building and is open 24-7.
I believe they had their best night ever.  It was busy!

We stayed there for about one hour before we decided to check how things were going.  Things were much better.  The firemen still were not allowing people in the building.  We decided to go to Moe's.
We heard that in its heyday Moe's was a pretty good place to eat. Not so much anymore.  The coffee tasted like it spent the whole night brewing. Yuck!
We stayed there for about one hour, and then we went back to our building.  The lobby was now open for business.  We got back to our apartment around seven in the morning.

It was a nasty little fire.  I have never seen so many fire trucks without a parade.

fire atwater
Fire ladders on outside of building.
note: At 1:45 to 2:00 you can see fire good,
upper right.
Hereis how the situation lokks like today:
  • The 10th floor is now totally empty.
  • The building smells very smokey.
  • Five people suffered smoke and minor burns.
  • We heard that a new tenant had moved in to the apartment building on Sunday afternoon,  onto the tenth floor. Sadly for him, the tenth floor is uninhabitable right now.  He was  crying in the laundry room yesterday.  I would be too.  It must be so  be devastating.
  • The good news is: The building is cement and very solid. The fire did not have a good chance of spreading very far.  Good fire doors.  All the doors are metal. The floors and walls are cement.  In fact, the apartment next to the fire doesn't  show much damage. However, most of the furniture contained in the apartment where the fire started melted. Total destruction.
  • The fire department did a great job. They were very efficient.

black soot and plywood on front of building.  

Yesterday was a mess.  Today repairs 10th floor.

10th floor hall being repaired.
Life is back to normal for us.  The 18 apartments on the 10th floor, not so much.


  1. How scary, Jon. I'm so glad you and your little French Lady are safe, and that there were no serious injuries in a serious situation.