Down, down, down and the flames went higher

Not quite as dramatic as "Backdraft," but close enough.

November 3, 2022, 12:30pm 

It had been a productive day from the start. I was getting ready to dog/house sit for a friend starting the next day, so I got up early, had done all my chores: laundry, groceries, dishes, etc... and was going to start packing what I might need for the next couple weeks (give or take, because I could always go home and get items as needed, right?) but decided to have lunch first. 

Before I had a chance to contemplate turkey or tuna, the fire alarms in my hallway went off. 

Now, I feel like I should explain a few things and back up a little bit. My building is riddled with pranksters, hooligans, and scoundrels. This past summer, some weenie thought it would be funny to set off fireworks INSIDE of the building, so it is not unusual for alarms to be tripped and chaos to ensue. 

At first, I was annoyed. (insert eye twitch) Agitated that my afternoon would now include: BEEP...... BEEP..... BEEP..... until management was able to shut down the alarm.  

Then I heard some voices outside the building that sounded a trifle panicked. I looked out my balcony and saw a small group of people staring back at the building and getting on their cell phones, and then I hear one of them say that oh so crucial word - FIRE! 

Residents began running down the hallway, and I heard some of them coughing and instructing others that the stairwell off to the side of my unit is unpassable. 

I looked down the hallway but didn't see smoke, and I hadn't seen any when I looked outside either, so I wasn't sure how serious it was. For all I knew this could be a toaster fire that required only a fire extinguisher and/or a box of baking soda, and I would be back in my unit in 20 minutes. 

***You know how you are always posed with the question, "If your house was on fire what would you grab?" 

Well, I can tell you what I grabbed: my handbag, car & house keys, computer (not the charging cord, of course - why would I think to get that. Eye-twitching returns), and my small safe that has my important documents (not the key, though. Why would I think to fish out the one necessary item to open the vessel containing my important documents....Silly Becky). 

What I didn't grab were sensible shoes, or any kind of a jacket..... nope, nothing, not even a fleece pullover. But at that time, the day was mild, and I really didn't think I would be outside long.

Fortunately, I just had myself to worry about. When I rounded the corner of the hallway, I found one of my neighbors, a young man of maybe 20 years, struggling to pull 3 cages containing 4 cats down the hall. 

I offer to help, and together we walk halfway through the building to a clear stairwell, and we began our descend, with the fuzzy friends, down one flight of stairs. Remember when we were kids and sledding down the stairs in like a cardboard box seemed like a good idea?? This was sort of like that. But. With. Cats. On the second flight of stairs the latch on one of the cages my neighbor was carrying popped open and the freaked out feline bolted back up the stairs. 

Remember what I said about chaos.... 

My neighbor shouted frantically, leapt over the cage like an Olympic hurdler, and flew back up the stairs. I yelled to him that I would get the rest of the cats out. He managed to wrangle the escape artist and by the time he met me outside we were both ready to pass out on the lawn. 

Less than a minute later, another young man was walking towards us, turns out it was the cat shleppers roommate, because in a rage the man with the cats shouted, "Really bro! The PlayStation?! You grabbed the F***ING PLAYSTATION!" 

At this point I thought it was best that I side-step my way out of this conversation. 

Once I got around to the front of the building, I saw the fire, and it was legit. If it was a toaster fire then it urgently spread above and below, and across the hall, claiming multiple units in its hunger. 

Wave after wave of first responders funneled into my community until we were completely boxed in by emergency vehicles. 

Fire hoses blasting, balcony rescues, doors and windows being broken and kicked in. It was like something out of a movie, but alas Kurt Russell never showed up.... (Dang it!.... next time.) 

A few hours later we were informed that we would not be able to re-enter the building. Until further notice, this section of the building is... pausing for effect...... wait for it...... it's amazing how one word can change your life............ Ahem....... UNINHABITABLE

Almost as if on cue, storm clouds began to roll in. I joke not, my friends.  

Is that snow? 

Yes. Yes, it is. 


I looked down at my naked toes, with nothing but flimsy flippies between them and the elements and thought of the neighbor that in his haste could think of nothing else to grab other than the PlayStation. Which is ironic since he has no TV in which to use said PlayStation, or electrical outlet to plug it in, but before I could dig too deeply into my judgment, I realized that at least he was wearing sensible shoes!

Kevin P. 05.11.2022 16:12

I am so sorry you had to experience this, Becky. But one thing no stinking fire can take away from you is this: You're an awesome writer. Keep on producing!!

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Latest comments

05.11 | 16:12

I am so sorry you had to experience this, Becky. But one thing no stinking fire can take away from you is this: You're an awesome writer. Keep on producing!!

15.04 | 16:00

You are the first person that I have heard from that has this bugger! feel free to reach out to me in the contact me section. Limited response in this section

15.04 | 03:48

Wow. IHow are you doing with the Teratocarcinosarcoma. I was diagnosed with it last September.

15.11 | 18:32

Wow! What an inspirational story! I hope that you continue to share. And for those that don't get it. Try and fit in her shoes one day.