Sunday, November 05, 2006


fog and smoke
I awoke to the low slow whine of sirens. And another. And then another. Not the fast repeated tones of a police car racing to a crime, but the slow steady whine of fire trucks. And then another. I looked outside through the fogged up windows and didn’t see anything. Light just beginning outside as I went downstairs in the dark morning. Yesterday’s downpours have finally stopped, but replacing them is a thick fog. I opened the back door and smelled smoke. And then there was the fire truck heading up the street a block away and a few people on the sidewalk.

There was a fire in my neighborhood this morning. I gathered Wink and my raincoat and headed towards the flares blocking the road. As I turned the corner, neighbors were rustling and one stood at his gate. Thick yellow firehoses snaked up the street and the police officer at the corner told me I could only walk to the yellow crime scene tape. “Of course” I said. I walked towards the scene to join a neighbor in her robe and a few girls who I come to find, live next door to the house. Chainsaws are whirring and I know firefighters must be on a roof, and sure enough, there they were, allowing for huge billows of black smoke to pour through.

But then I see it. A gurney on the sidewalk, and just across the street from where I’m standing, an ambulance. In it, I’m told, is one of the people they’ve pulled from the house. “They’re in there workin’ on him” my neighbor says. No one knows if there’s another, and the gurney sits empty out front.

I can’t even count the fire trucks and police cars. The whole block is cordoned off and neighbors warily stand out front. The house with the fire is a big old house, now made into a duplex, probably built between 1907-1920. There are plenty like it in my neighborhood, and less than 6 years ago another old house, only two blocks from this one, suffered an extreme fire and just recently was repaired and inhabited again.

I hope the people in that house are okay, but I’m not so sure. Wink and I head back, and stop to talk to the officer stationed at our corner. They were told there were two people in the house, yet they’ve only pulled one. We don’t talk about what that means.
Updated: The story is on, but the man in the ambulance has died. Another man was injured when he jumped from the second story to escape the fire. The house had no electricity and they think candles started the fire.


Syd said...

Oh, dear God. How frightening.

Vince said...


Rozanne said...

Very sad. You know there's a lot more to that story. Sounds like the fire is the result of major negligence on the part of the landlord.

Lee said...

that's crazy...I won't even start about substandard housing and just how many people "make do" and wind up in these situations...what a day for y'all.

rodger said...

I saw this on the news late last night and they had footage of them carrying one of the victims out of the house unconscious. How very sad to think he didn't make it. What a lousy way start your day.