Saturday, March 17, 2012

We were almost ASLEEP!

That night before Thanksgiving my senior year of high school may have been the scariest night of my life. There is an image etched permanently into my mind from then; an image I have shared with every fellow fake-fire-alarm evacuator (and more importantly, the sit-in-the-apartment-and-plug-my-ears while-that-alarm-drills-into-my-skull-ers). I cannot adequately describe the feelings associated with flinging opening your shutters at 1 am and realizing that the house ACROSS THE STREET is not just on fire, people. Not just on fire. ABLAZE. Spewing it's flame-tongues across the street you walk every day to the school bus, to your house. Your room. Your home. Running down the hall to where your parents are fast asleep, barely able to get out the words "The house is on fire" (even though that wasn't precisely true), pulling on pants, shoes, jackets, herding our two puppies and RUNNING out the back door. My father still in his underwear hosing down our roof. The telephone ringing, ringing, ringing. I have these flashes of memories in my head, but no words could do them justice.

Unfortunately folks, I know what that's like.

That night is etched into my head so completely that when I was lying awake this evening in bed, staring at shadows on our wall, the first thought about that soft orange glow, the sounds of lumber crashing, wasn't, "Stupid noisy truck. Dim your headlights!" I was on my feet, yelling at JJ to wake the hell up before I even looked out the window because I KNEW in my BONES what the hell that was. A quick peek from the window of our fifth-story apartment only confirmed this--flames spewing out from the window across the alley from where we live, licking the sides of our building. I could feel the warmth from that blaze from the window.

I'd like to think that I'm an expert in this whole the-fire-is-real-so-lets-evacuate-quickly thing, but I'm totally not. JJ was calm and cool while I was running around with one slipper on yelling about how I wasn't going to leave the cat behind. It was a flurry of motion and movement, but all in all, I think we are both glad I didn't clean too much today, as shoes, jackets, and pants were all readily available on the floor around the bed. Kitty and purse in hand, we darted out the door (all the while I was pounding on our neighbor's doors to wake them up) and ran down the hall to the stairs and out the building. We sat in the parking lot for two hours, unable to really see the progress of the flames and wondering how far that fire got.

We were lucky. Right now, we are sitting comfortably on our couch, soothing Meeko (the fire alarms are still going off and he's a bit freaked out). I know it's always easy to think that this could never happen to you, but please, people. I beg you. You may not be so lucky. ALWAYS evacuate, even if you live in an apartment or dorm building that is notorious for fire alarms for things like burnt pop corn in the basement. Have a plan. Keep important things (animal leash/carrier, passports, wallet, shoes etc.) someplace you won't have to look for them in case of a fire.

This is the creepy old building the fire was in. As you can see, it's VERY  close to us. The fire was probably arson. After all, can you think of a better place for general crime and skullduggery than a creepy abandoned old building like this one?

For obvious reasons, no I don't have a picture of the blaze. Right now the fire ladder is just outside our window, smoke billowing out, and you can see the flashlights of those hardworking firemen on all the floors of that building.  

A video by someone in Lowell. Our apartment is directly across from that covered catwalk.


  1. Holy crap! I'm glad you're alright. You should have been a firefighter given how they seem to seek you out.

    Random question: why do fires always seem to happen at night?

  2. WoW! Totally scary!! When I lived alone my sophmore year, the apartment across from mine caught on fire from a hair dryer. It burnt through 4 appartments & watter damage to 9. Ridiculously scary! Glad you guys are ok!