First things first: I’m okay and so is my own apartment. No property loss, don’t have to relocate. I was lucky. Not so much the guy who started the blaze, however. We’ll get back to that.
About 7 PM last night, while I was fixing dinner, the alarm bells went off outside my front door. Didn’t think much of it at first, since there have been false alarms in the past, but then I heard noise in the hallway and popped my head out… and smelled smoke.
This one was for real.
I grabbed my laptop and USB drive (to access important papers I keep online and my bank account) and headed out to the street. It looked like a disaster movie outside: three full engine companies had showed up and were already attacking the fire. I could see smoke pouring from one apartment, and it billowed out the openings at the end of the hallway like smoke pouring form an old coal-burning engine, black and thick.
Like I said, I was lucky. Though only a few doors down the hall from me, there were two closed fire doors in between, keeping the smoke out. And LAFD responded so fast and put the fire out so quickly that it didn’t spread from the original unit, though the hallway is black with smoke stains, and the people below have water damage.
The moron who started the fire, however, paid a price. Apparently my guess was right. Per the LAFD, a fire started in the kitchen, a grease fire, and he tried to put it out by throwing water on it. It probably blew up in his face like this:
Hence he is now in the hospital with burns to his arms and head. And probably facing lawsuits. Idiot.
(In case you think I’m being callous, I do sympathize with him for his injuries, but he damn near burned me out, too. So sympathy is limited.)
I did feel sorry for the animals, too. I saw one woman desperately trying to get her cat into a carrier (It was probably thinking “We’re going to the Vet? NOW???”), and a poor border collie was just shaking with fear as its owner tried to calm it. All the noise and the smells were probably too much for it.
- Fire doors are good things. I will never complain about them being closed and annoying again.
- Everyone needs basic fire extinguisher training and have a fire extinguisher in their kitchen. I’ve been trained, but my extinguisher is overdue for replacement.
- I also need a “go bag” ready for an emergency evacuation. I knew what I wanted to save, and I got out pretty quickly, but, had I been forced to relocate, I’d have had only the clothes I was wearing.
- Whatever the favorite charity is for the Los Angeles Fire Department, it’s getting a donation from me.
So, let’s see. I get sick Friday and my building nearly burns down Saturday. I wonder what Sunday has in store?
Don’t answer that.
PS: The apartment where the fire started is locked up, naturally, but I’ll see if I can get some decent pictures of other parts..
PPS: Got some pictures.
That’s what’s left of the front door of the apartment.
Black is not the original color for this hallway, trust me.
The fire door did its job.