- Candle: $1.14
- Wobbly candlestick holder: $2.99
- Destroying your apartment, cooking your cats, and leaving about 100 people homeless: priceless
For everything else there's Disaster Card™ (A little joke that came up while paying for dinner with a disaster relief voucher - the actual cause of the fire is still undetermined, but a candle is likely).
About 11:10, Elaine and I had just finished having coffee on the couch in my apartment and the fire alarm went off. My first inclination was to think that it was a false alarm, as these things usually turn out to be. Nonetheless I peeked out the bay window and was met with the sight of the adjacent apartment two floors up engulfed in flames. The glass had already burst out of the window and the flames were spewing out of the window. Given that the building is nearly 100 years old and all the interior structure is very dry wood it was time to get the fuck out of there as quickly as possible. I grabbed the cat carrier, Elaine grabbed Jazz and I started a mad search for Tharsis. The little nerd was under the bed! Soon enough we were outside with the cats, watching the whole world go up in flames (and when it was all over I said to myself, "is that all there is to fire?").
Although it was only took couple minutes for the fire department to show up, it seemed like an eternity. Soon enough, however the fire trucks were there and the firemen did their jobs effectively and efficiently. The fire was contained to the one apartment and was put out in short order - about half an hour - while we stood and watched an nervously smoked cigarettes. Sandi and Nick's apartment was on the fourth floor, across the hall and a couple apartments down from the fire. Nick helped fight the fire until the firemen arrived and along with the other residents of the 4th floor that did this was, in my opinion, instrumental in helping to contain the damage.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, the smoke damage to their apartment was extensive and the heat from the fire melted things in their kitchen. They had their insurance adjuster in today and their belongs are officially a write-off. They may be able to salvage a few things, but the smoke has pretty much ruined everything they own.
Natalie and Rob's apartment was directly below the fire, three floors down. All the soot and smoked soked water has run down into their apartment, which Tanya was due to move into and which Captain Ron had only just moved out of. The water caused the plaster on the walls and ceiling to disintigrate and the ceiling has fallen in. Rob says that most of his things seem alright, but Nat's things were under the collapsed ceiling and have been utterly soked by the sooty water. She does not have insurance and is therefore the worst off of the lot of us.
Of our lot, the lucky ones are Captain Ron, Tanya and myself. Ron, because although he wanted to stay until the end of November, Tanya's impending move meant that he had just moved his things out. Tanya, because she had not as yet begun moving in in earnest, had very little in the apartment, and myself by sheer luck of the draw and a quirk of architecture.
My apartment is at the midpoint of the north-south axis of the building. The main support beam for the floor runs through the centre of the apartment. Because the building has settled over the last 93 years it has a somewhat-greater-than-slight bend at the mid-point such that the north half of my apartment slopes down one way and the south half the other, as do the floors above me. This means that the floors between the 3rd and 4th floors as well as the floor between the 2nd and 3rd floors effectively acted as a gabled roof for my apartment. The water from the fire ran away from my apartment in either direction. And I was spared any smoke damage by another equally odd bit of luck. As it happened I had my candle chandelier lit at the time of the fire and, as I am wont, all but one of my windows open. These things inconbination prevented any smoke from settling in my apartment at all. When I went in today and specifically checked for signs of soot there were none, whereas even some suites on the first floor have smoke damage. As was the case in the two previous apartment fires I have made it through unscathed, random circumstace has left me unharmed.
Well, not entirely unharmed. Of course my servers are down as long as the building power is cut off and it looks entirely like I am going to lose one of my clients over this and another of my clients is entirely unhappy at the moment. But of all the possible outcomes to something like this, I'll take those lumps.
Once the fire was extinguished there was a lot of relatively disorganized waiting around to be done. The firemen informed us that a transit bus had been dispached for us to get warm in while accomodations were arranged by the disaster relief people. In typical Translink fashion the bus took forever to arrive. Once it did arrive there was still much waiting to be done. Eventually they let some of us go into the building one by one, with a fire department escort, to retreive necessities. This was the point I found out that my apartment was OK. I grabbed a change of clothes and, me being me, my camera. There is more to this story, but I'll get to it tomorrow. For now, here are the pictures from the evening: