Fire Bad! Fire Bad!
For most waking up on a Friday, they wake up happy that the week is nearly over and start planning for the weekend… yesterday I didn’t have that joy when around 4:30 am I awoke to the sound of the UPS in my second bedroom beeping and the loud talking and walking of individuals outside, wondering what time it was I looked over to my alarm clock to find that I had no power in my bedroom as well. A quick look through my blinds revealed some emergency vehicles outside of my building. Now being awake and not likely able to fall back asleep I opted to put on some clothes so I could go outside and see what all of the fuss was about when I heard a knock at the door... it was a Redmond Police Officer telling me that they were evacuating the building due to a fire, I told him I'd be out in just another moment as I needed to finish dressing.
Upon returning to my bedroom I noticed that one of the wall outlets had an eerie orange glow within/behind it, I grabbed the officer and told him that I think I’d found the fire.
Fast forward a little while as the fire department went apt to apt in the building, hunting for the fire and it's signs while wielding axes and devices capable of detecting hot spots, all the while only getting to kick down 2 doors as their occupants instinctively locked them when they'd left at the request of the police earlier.
Not long later I heard a couple of the emergency personal mention an apartment number, 131, as it turned out they thought it had come from mine and a quick look through my bedroom window seemed to confirm that:
Our first look at one of the holes:
Apparently a short time after 4 am someone on the 3rd floor of the building placed a 911 call because his bedroom was filling with smoke that seemed to be coming through the floor, smoke caused by an electrical outlet in my bedroom wall 2 floors below.
Luckily for all involved the damage was minor with the fire only burning inside of my wall, through the firewall and into the wall of the neighboring apartment and with only smoke which made it to the higher floors, though to verify this the fire department tore out large chunk of the wall in 6 different apartments and poked holes in the ceilings of two of them.
While similar removal of sheetrock was seen in all 6 affected units, mine and the neighbor (who you can see through my (now) half missing firewall):
Yes that is the other apartment you see over there.
After the fire was out and the smoke cleared the Deputy Fire Marshal and a few inspectors went in to survey the damage. The consensus seemed to be that the fire was caused by an apparent fault in a 10-15 year old wall socket and actually occurred inside of the wall, likely unrelated to what I had plugged into it at the time (a cell phone and cordless phone base station, only one the plugs of which showed ANY sign of heat damage, and even then minimal)).
All is well though, no one was injured, no one (except for the building owners) suffered any property damage other than some limited smoke damage, personally my renters insurance will be paying for the time I spend outside of my apartment as well as cleaning of those items that now stink.
A big thank you needs to go out to the Redmond Police and Fire Departments for their prompt actions yesterday morning which helped make the whole thing happen pretty smoothly... or as smoothly as a fire can be.
I am fortunate to live in a good neighborhood as the Fire Department is a straight shot down a single road, less than a mile away and the Police Station is even closer which is why both were able to arrive while the original caller was still on the phone with 911... and because of their closeness (and the hour) they did not turn on their sirens, just their lights which was why the police had to wake most people up by banging on their doors... which to some was a mixed blessing.
The local FD also deserves major props for their amazing parking job. The apartment I live at is on a rather large hill and the local FD drove 4 large trucks down the hill and successfully parked:
Even more impressive (if we ignore their professionalism, stamina, willingness to serve, ability to wake up and perform at any hour of the day and more)… was seeing these trucks back up this hill successfully!
This event has raised some interesting questions in my mind in different areas: technically, personally and socially, all things I will discuss at a later time, but they are for another time, as right now I am enjoying the free breakfast at a local hotel… though Care Bears is on the TV down here, so maybe it’s not all good… mmm, seasoned potatoes.