Monday, November 23, 2009

Not funny but true

Sunday afternoon, around 5:00, I picked up a large sweet tea at McDonalds and parked in one of the downtown lots, not far from where I work.
As I sat there, I noticed something odd: There was smoke coming out of one of the buildings. It wasn't much at first-- in fact, at first I thought it was just steam from a vent or something.
But then it started billowing.
It seemed like no one else was noticing, so I called 911.
The lady informed me that someone else had already called, and that help was on the way.
I sat in the parking lot (at a safe distance) and watched in horror as the fire progressed rapidly. It engulfed the entire building.
Part of the reason for my horror was that the business my mother owns was nearby-- and all those buildings are joined together.
The part where the fire started was a restaurant. It was closed at the time, so no one was trapped inside. (Whew.)
The place burned, the roof collapsed, flames shot out.
6-8 different fire departments had to come help.
They closed off the street and pumped water from the river to help put out the fire. (Apparently the hydrants weren't enough).
The local radio station sent someone to cover the story.
The Salvation Army was there, distributing free beverages to the firefighters.
At 7:30, it was still burning.
It didn't stop smoldering til about 9:30.
They brought in a backhoe to start breaking down the rear walls of the building and scoop stuff into a pile.
They brought in a bulldozer to scrape up the debris from the street.
I'm glad to report that the fire didn't reach mom's place, but I feel really bad for the businesses that were ruined. This really was an awful fire.

Amazingly, it's already up on YouTube, here and especially here.
And there are already two websites with news stories about it, here and here.
(Not sure why that second one says it happened on the 19th... it happened on Sunday the 22nd. I know. I was there.)


Nessa said...

Wow. I'm glad no one was hurt.

Thanksgiving MeMe

Anonymous said...

Yes, good that no one was hurt - things can be replaced, people, not so much.

Marilyn said...

I hope the businesses had insurance... it's so easy to let that go first, especially if they rent the location, and with this economy...

Janna said...

Nessa: Amazing but true. Thank goodness.

Grace: So true.

Marilyn: I was thinking the same thing. The guy who rents those building is notorious for charging extra high rent rates. So maybe they couldn't afford good insurance....? I hope things work out for them.

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

A friend of mine lost her shop to fire twice in a couple of years. She's up and running again and keeping her fingers crossed.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

Once, when I was kid, I came home from school and told my parents all about a really bad kid at school who got in trouble for talking while the teacher was trying to teach reading. That kid, I said, was made to stand with his nose in the corner for 15 minutes before he was allowed to return to his seat. As it should turn out, my parents sensed that I was leaving an important fact out of the story: That the chatty kid who had to stand with his nose in the corner was me, myself and I.

I'm going to take a close look at those YouTube videos you mentioned, Janna. A very close look.

Janna said...

PerpetualChocoholic: Twice in a couple of years?? Ouch. That must've been rough.

MikeWJ: Go on. Look at them... I'm in the parking lot off to the far left, which always ends up being off-camera.
They still don't know what caused the fire. The investigator dude was there studying the site today-- they've got it all closed off with "Police-Area-Do-Not-Cross" yellow tape. The radio has been mentioning it throughout the day.
I spent much of my childhood in that building, since that's the very spot where mom's salon USED to be. I remember many, many afternoons in the back room, reading comic books and playing with hair curlers. I keep thinking about that. It's hard to imagine that very spot being an inferno, right where I sat all those years every day after school. :(
Very sad.

Marla said...

How sad but good nobody was hurt.

Unfinished Rambler said...

Isn't this supposed to be a humor blog? Man...what a downer. :)

But seriously, glad no one was hurt and that your mom's place wasn't directly affected.

Janna said...

Marla: Very true.

Unfinished Rambler: LOL. I know it's a departure from the norm. Every now and then I have to keep you guys on your toes. :)