motd.co: Livejournal Refugee: Burnin’ Down the House

I’m rescuing this post from my Livejournal. It was originally written in 2008, during my first stay in Connecticut.

It rained almost non-stop from Friday afternoon until yesterday evening. There were some breaks in between storms, but it was a lot of rain. It was also unseasonably warm on Saturday. Between that and the fact that with the DST switch it’s still completely light out after 5:30pm, it feels a lot more like spring (even though it’s been pretty cold today).

The power went out for a little while, but it wasn’t until almost two hours later that I started smelling smoke. I ran around the apartment making sure it wasn’t happening IN MY APARTMENT and then I heard the sirens approaching. I ran outside and saw a huge tower of flames shooting out of the window of a house across the street.

It’s kind of a wooded area I live in, so between the trees and the dark I couldn’t tell too closely what was going on, but there were three fire engines and a ton of police cars on the street and pulled up on that house’s property. My first thought was “oh god, I hope everyone’s okay. I wonder if there’s anything I can do?” and my second thought was “oh god, there are tons of TREES between there and here, I hope this fire doesn’t spread through the neighborhood”. I stood there, trying to watch what they were doing, and awkwardly not knowing what to do.

My landlord came out after a little while and we talked a bit about the people who used to live there. I guess the good news is that no one lives in that house right now— the guy who brought the property just built a brand new house further back on the property (which, as far as we could see, was not on fire) and whether or not he was going to move in or sell it or whatever remained to be seen. Mike wasn’t sure if they were planning on just knocking the old house down or what, but at any rate the building wasn’t occupied and probably didn’t even have much in the way of possessions, photographs, or anything like that in it.

It felt strange to go back inside. There was a fire, still visible out of one of the top-floor windows, burning inside while all of the volunteer firefighters drove up in their vehicles from their various Saturday night activities, suited up, and ran up the driveway to the site. Flashing blue and red lights were still coming through my bathroom window. Going back in to watch TV seemed like the wrong thing to do, but there wasn’t anything else *to* do. I called Gretchen and kind of breathlessly told her everything that happened. The whole neighborhood was filled with smoke and my bathroom still smelled a little bit of smoke when I got up this morning.

It’s only the second time I’ve ever seen a real fire-related disaster in my life, and the first one (Von’s) drove one of my friends out of his home and shut down my favorite local business for a few weeks. For that one, there were real feelings to be felt and ways to offer support. For this one, there wasn’t really any of that. I just sat across the street not knowing what to do with myself.