Remember when I told the story of Ibis, my cat, and the thunderstorm that came through here yesterday? Well, little did we know that there was a whole lot of excitement to come from that.
It was late, around midnight or so, and I was watching TV. I thought I smelled smoke, but it wasn’t very strong and I thought maybe it was just the smell of the burner where I had just been cooking up some chicken for tomorrow. The burner was turned off, but I thought maybe the smell was lingering a bit.
Then, my son Patrick, 17, came down to say, “Mom, do you know that there’s two fire trucks outside?” Well, as soon as he said that, I could hear the engines running, and they were right in front of our townhouse. Two long yellow fire trucks with ladders and everything!
The next door neighbors, whose townhouse is attached to ours, were leaning against their car. Other neighbors were milling around, but everyone seemed so nonchalant to me. I looked over the railing and couldn’t see any fire, plus the smoke alarms didn’t go off. We’ve got some really loud smoke alarms and would have heard them. There were no fire hoses being pulled out of the truck, and all I saw were a couple of firemen with fire extinguishers. The oddest thing that struck me was that we were right next door and not one person knocked on our door to tell us what was going on.
I mean, it’s after midnight, my husband is asleep, as are most people at this time of night, and you would think that someone would warn us about smoke and fire right next door to us, don’t you think? As you can see in this photograph, our townhouse is the one on the left, and the neighbor on the right.
Anyway, I went downstairs and spoke to a fireman that was standing practically in my driveway, since it is right next to the neighbor’s front door. I said, “What’s going on, is this something we should be concerned about?” He said there was a small fire and a gas leak in the apartment next door. Ack! He said that the fire was out and the gas secure, but that there might still be some gas fumes. I asked him if I should wake my husband and he said that we might want to stay on alert. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen at that point.
So, as much as I hated to, I woke up my husband and explained to him what was going on.
My husband knows all the neighbors, I don’t know anyone. He asked the neighbors what happened and they said that they were asleep when they smelled smoke and called the fire department. They really didn’t know much more than that, either.
Finally, after a couple of hours, it seemed, the fire trucks left when the gas company arrived. The neighbors left to find accommodations elsewhere since their power and gas was turned off, and everyone else went home.
After that, I couldn’t sleep at all. I stayed up ’til 5 am and finally went to bed.
This afternoon, I spoke to the manager of our complex and she said that lightning struck, started a small fire and put a small hole in the gas line in the wall by the neighbor’s dining room. That would mean there was a half bath between our unit and their dining room. Too close for me, that’s for sure.
Then, while I was talking to the manager, it dawned on me that the lightning struck around 3-4 pm yesterday, at the same time that Ibis, my cat, came crawling out of my kitchen. No wonder he was afraid, it was really close and he probably knew it was a lot closer than I did. I told the manager that it was earlier in the day when the lightning struck. She said that it was called a “slow burn.” That was one slow burn, all right, about eight hours before the fire trucks arrived.
Anyway, that was enough excitement for one night, and I’m just glad that no one was hurt, and it doesn’t appear that there was much damage.
I’ll tell you one thing, though. If ever I smell smoke and have to call the fire department, you can be sure that I’ll wake up the neighbors!
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