The Wine Diaries-Fire!
I am currently displaced from my home. Although it’s not a great feeling to have no access to your belongings, we are safe. In the wee hours of Friday the 13th (not that I’m superstitious), my boyfriend came to bed at 2 am. He is a night owl but this is late even for him. But it would turn out that it was lucky for us he was wide awake. Only moments later, he got back up because not only had he heard some strange noises coming from the hallway but was sure he smelled smoke. At the same time I heard some commotion outside my window. I was more than half asleep so couldn’t put anything together and wasn’t even sure if I was actually dreaming. Next thing my boyfriend yelled to me from the next room, Thomson get up! My groggy response was What? What’s wrong? There’s a fire! he tells me as he comes back to get dressed. I jumped out of bed only to stand, dazed and naked in the middle of my bedroom, uncertain as to what to do next. I knew I couldn’t run out naked, that truly would be a nightmare. But I couldn’t figure out what to wear to a fire. Isn’t that the strangest reaction? I guess I was still dazed from sleep though. So I grabbed what was on my bed, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt fumbling and panicking repeating Oh my god, oh my god in a very high pitched tone. My boyfriend reassured me we would get out and everything would be okay. I took a deep breath and calmed down. What do you want to take? he asks me. I tell him nothing we have to get the hell out of here! Get your phone he said. I grabbed my phone and grabbed my purse as I was awake enough now to know I’m going to need my i.d. A sweater he tells me, something warm. Yes, I reach for a sweatshirt. His instructions crystal clear, I was grateful for as I couldn’t think straight. By now the shrill of the fire alarm was sounded, adding to the urgency of our exit. He opens our door to thick smoke, enough that it is hard to see. He shuts it and tells me we might have to go off the balcony. We run to the balcony, and see two young men across the street yelling fire, get out of there! It’s behind you! Eerily, there was no one outside. At this point we decide to try to make a run for it out the door and down the hall. With one hand on the door and the other over his mouth, he looked at me and asked are you ready? I nodded. Cover your mouth, take a deep breath and out we went. We ran for it and it wasn’t far to the stairway. I was in front so I touched the door carefully to make sure it wasn’t too hot and that the fire wasn’t anywhere near the stairway. It felt normal so we pushed through and ran down the stairs. As we ran out of the building there were a few people coming out from the main floor but very few.
There was only a handful of us outside so my boyfriend started honking his car horn in hopes of alerting sleeping residents that this was a real fire not a false ‘alarm’. Still no firetruck. I asked the young men if anyone had called 911, one of them was on the phone with them at that moment. We decided to move our vehicles away from the front of the building for safety and to make room for the trucks. As I drove my car up and made a u turn I could see the blaze in the night sky and the crescent moon hanging above, pretty as you please. It seemed surreal then and there was no way of knowing whether the whole thing would go up in flames and we would lose everything. Then the first truck arrived at the front door. They began to hookup the hose to the hydrant when we all told them they should go to the back of the building where the fire had started. They asked if they could fit back there. We all yelled yes!Yes! After, we pondered why they didn’t go there in the first place and we lost precious minutes. Isn’t it their job to know all the roads, back roads, and access to buildings? I’m not criticizing, just asking.
When they finally got the truck to the back and hooked the hose up to the hydrant, we could finally exhale. Water was on it and it would surly be over in a minute. But instead, the fire seemed to grow and spread while one measly hose wasn’t doing the trick. Then another hose started, thank goodness. More firetrucks arrived at the scene. We wondered were they going door to door to make sure everyone was out? I silently prayed that our place would remain fire free, while everyone seemed to be out watching the fire in bathrobes and pajamas. One young resident was milling about holding a bottle of booze in one hand and a canvas in the other (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Picasso). I kid you not. She was obviously intoxicated and I guess she thought why not carry on the party outdoors fire or no fire? I heard her say she was the one to pull the fire alarm. Good on her. I only wished she would sober up a little and realize people may be dead. Indeed, we found out the next day that 1 person did die, a very sobering fact. We’re awaiting further details though as to the cause and who died.
Which brings me to the question, what would you take in the event of a fire? We won’t count your purse of course because that’s a no brainer. What is the one item you would take? A bottle of booze and a painting? No? Your instinct will tell you to get the hell out and not to worry about “things” just your safety. Remember you may never get back in, and there is the risk of losing everything. I lament the loss of my furniture, beloved books, clothing, shoes, bags that I have carefully collected over the years. All of our contents will undoubtedly suffer smoke damage. Apparently there is no way to rid that stench from wood or fabric. I will have to start over. But there is no need to feel sorry for me. I have a temporary place to stay and luckily a few items of clothing left at our family summer cottage and apartment insurance which will surely help with the replacement of our necessities. We just remind each other, we are the lucky ones. We’re alive.
This also brings to mind the fact that if you are a divorced mom or dad living with your children, how scary this would be to go through alone. So I advise preparation, just like the boy scouts and here are my recommendations;
1 Make sure your detectors are all in working order
2 Keep your purse, phone and keys in the same place every night before bed (you don’t want to waste precious minutes searching for these necessities)
3 Have a disaster plan with your children
4 keep your pants and shirt at the end of your bed (here’s where being messy is a good thing), you’ll have something to throw on without thinking
Here is the video of the firefighters putting it out. This was after our escape and we were relatively calm. Pour yourself a glass of Cupcake Vineyard’s Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010. The slightly fruity taste will take the edge off the smoke.
Have you suffered loss or trauma from fire? What are your tips to evacuating in an emergency or fire?