Fire In The Hole

So, a little over an hour ago, I am sitting at my computer, and I hear this rattling and running and yelling in the hall. We have kids in the building, so I didn’t pay it a lot of attention. But, Shakira is freaking out.

Then, all of a sudden, the lights go off. More yelling and runnning, only I realize it’s grown men. I opened the door, and the hallway is full of smoke. One of the maintenance men runs by me, making his way toward the window at the hallway.

“What’s going on?”

“Fire, sir.” He opens the window – the wrong thing to do in case of a fire; but he wants to clear the air of smoke if he can…obviously not trained to realize the increased oxygen is likely to increase the smoke. I close the door and try to catch Shakira. She’s not having any of it, though, especially the part of me wanting to put her in a bag.

I stop trying to catch her and go back to the door. I stand in the doorway to see if they’re going to contain the flames or not. If I see they can’t, I’ll throw a towel over the cat and get her that way. If I get trapped, there’s a ledge I can sit on just outside my bedroom window. Someone will come by; I can toss down the bag with the cat; then I can figure out a way to get down off the ledge – even I have to jump, which would hurt but not kill me.

Fortunately, it appears that they’re going contain it. So, I grab a couple of important items and head out the door. Before I leave, I grab my sweat jacket and hold it to my mouth as I slide past the apartment. Billowing smoke is pouring out the door, and the guys fighting the fire have no masks. So, they’re running in and out with rags over their noses and mouths.

I get outside, and I can see the smoke coming out of the window. Probably thirty inhabitants of the building are standing in the parking lot watching things happen.

Several things strike me.

  1. There was no fire alarm that went off to warn the inhabitants.
  2. No one ran around knocking on the doors to urge residents to leave.
  3. These guys do not have the proper equipment to fight a fire. They have fire extinguishers that are good for about five seconds each.
  4. These guys do not have any OBAs (Oxygen Breathing Apparatus) that would allow them to breathe while fighting the fire.
  5. These guys have no flashlights.
  6. These guys have no training whatsoever in firefighting. As a Navy guy, I received a pretty good dose of training. There’s no one to help you when you’re a couple of thousand miles out to sea, so everyone has to learn how to do it. It’s incredibly obvious these guys don’t have the slightest clue what they’re doing.
  7. Maybe I should not have left Shakira inside.

A container that would hold maybe 20 gallons of firefighting material (who knows what) arrives, and they haul it inside. I can hear the thing open up, and I see a flare-up in the kitchen window. But, it quickly goes out. A couple of other fire extinguishers, and some ladders arrive. Within minutes, it is obvious the fire is out. Smoke continues to billow out for a few more moments; it also clears out after a time.

My next-door-neighbor, a co-worker of mine, and I return back to our apartments. Shakira is fine. But, the apartment smells like some has lit a campfire inside it. It’s been an hour since I came back inside, and the smell still lingers. My eyes burn a little, and I need to find my Vicks Inhaler to see if I can get the scent to leave the cilia in my nose.

Heck of an end to Virtual Sunday.

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