7/17 -- Burning Down The House(s)

On Monday night, I knew I owed everyone a journal update. But I just couldn't think of what to write about. Really ... very little has been going on, and I just can't seem to get my opinionated self worked up into the proper state of righteous indignation about anything.

And then this happened:
Townhomes burning down

An entire development of new townhouses under construction across the street from us burned right to the ground. Thank God that nobody was living there yet. I can't believe how fast these places went up. We're talking just a couple of hours from a nearly-completed development to smoking heaps of rubble.

Earlier that evening, I'd decided to do a badly-needed load of laundry. I threw the clothes in the washer, pushed the "Start" dial, and ... nothing. I could hear a faint trickle of water when I opened up the lid.

We couldn't figure it out. I turned on the water in the kitchen and found that only a thin stream was coming out of the faucet.

"I wonder if something's going on out there," Bill said. "I've been hearing weird stuff for a while. Maybe there's been some kind of water main break. I'm going to go check outside."

I'd been hearing strange noises outside too, but I'd chalked it up to your basic quasi-urban racket. Sirens. People walking around talking loudly. Yelling. More sirens. We had all the doors and windows shut and the TV blaring, which helped block out any noise from outside.

And then Bill came back inside to tell me that if I'd ever wanted to have my digital camera ready for duty, now was the time.

I grabbed the camera and hurried outside. Even from the landing, I could see a bright glow from across the street:
The haze from townhomes burning down

That's a really shitty picture of it, alas; as I discovered the weekend before in Baltimore, my digital camera's just not very good with night shots. The sky looked far more ominous. On the way out to the parking lot, I finally met my upstairs neighbors. They will undoubtedly always remember me as "The Girl Who Says 'Holy Shit' A Lot. A Whole Lot, In Fact."

I joined dozens of other people in my apartment building in completely disregarding the yellow "Police Line -- Do Not Cross" tape in order to get a better view of the inferno. I got close enough to feel the heat rolling off the fire before it occurred to me that I was being really dumb.
Townhomes burning down

But there were lots of other stupid people keeping me company:
The crowd watching townhomes burning down

"Dude! This is way cooler than 'RAW is War'!"

Right about then, I started getting an uneasy feeling: "They are going to put this out before it spreads over to our block. Right?" I headed back to the apartment and uploaded the pictures to the Mac. Just as I was about to start editing them all for this entry, poof. First the power in the half of the apartment with my computer and the kitchen lights went out. I told Bill I thought maybe a fuse had blown. Just as he started to check the box, the apartment went completely black.

Without even the streetlights outside to provide illumination, the place was pitch-black and I ended up in a panic, unable to see my hand in front of my face and convinced that the fire was heading this way. We were going to lose everything. And I'd brought all this on us by running around out there with a camera as if the fire were some kind of fireworks display put on for my entertainment. Divine retribution -- it's a bitch.

I think I regained my senses eventually, or at least as much sense as I ever have. Bill checked outside and reported that the fire was out. And my neurologist will be happy and proud to know that even a lack of electricity will not deter us from giving me my daily Copaxone injection. With Bill training the flashlight on me, I mixed and stabbed myself with no problems.

Bill and I settled in for the night in our living room, where we could sleep with the sliding door open to let some cooler air inside (with no air conditioning, the temperature was climbing rapidly). I lay there in the dark listening to the sounds of circling news helicopters and faint sirens and people talking.

There's a real irony in this whole incident. When Bill first moved here, that block was the site of some really ugly, slummy, run-down apartments. Last year, the owners sold the land to the townhome developers. Rather than tear down the slummy apartment buildings, the powers that be handed them over to our local fire department. The fire department wanted to use them for drills in order to train their firefighters to handle apartment fires more efficiently. For about a week, we'd watch the slummy buildings burning across the street as the firemen did their practice drills.

Little did they know that barely a year later, they'd be putting out a real fire there. Hope the practice helped.

Stranger yet, I'm pretty sure I was telling my friend Tom that story last week, and I think I might have actually concluded it with "Sure wish I'd had the digital camera back then, heh heh." Little did I know.
Another guy filming townhomes burning down

I was looking over one picture and found this guy in the left side of the frame. He's probably got some film of me taking pictures of the whole mess. He's been inexpertly enlarged and dodged for enhancement purposes.

Our power eventually went back on at around 1 am. And here I am. It's 2:08 as I finish this up and I. cannot. sleep.

Indulging my inner hit slut

(clix like you can prevent townhouse fires.)

The next entry.

Previously, in Insomniaville ...

Main Page