Friday, September 4, 2009
When There's Smoke
That heap of charred furniture is what remains from the basement storage area of one of our neighbors. Over the past couple days, there have been some workers down in the cave (pronounced "cahhv") messing with the plumbing. Just what they were doing I don't know except for the notice that there would be no hot water from Wednesday morning through Thursday evening. But then sometime yesterday afternoon, they somehow ignited a electrical fire down there. The fire must have been smoldering for awhile because when I came home after being out for several hours, I smelled something burnt but it dissipated by the time I reached our floor. A short while later, when I was heading out with one of my kids to do an errand, we encountered some ladies down in the courtyard calling the fire department about smoke billowing out of the cave vents. The gardienne came running from her apartment several doors down and I figured there was no reason to hang around.
About a half hour later, heading back home, my cellphone rang. It was a neighbor across the street.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"Well there are fire trucks blocking the street on both ends and smoke everywhere."
We made our way back to our place where we found a hook and ladder, a smaller fire truck, a police car, the electric company and the gas company, and lots and lots of firefighters. A crowd of residents and rubberneckers gathered on the sidewalk although interestingly, they did not evacuate the building. Twenty minutes later, they gave the all clear for those of us who had left to return and that's when we saw the smoldering pile of the third floor resident's family heirlooms and bric a brac, hauled up from the cave and doused in the courtyard. Poor fellow. The rest of us just have to deal with the lingering scent of smoke, a cold dinner (the gas wasn't turned back on until late), and no hot water for the second night in a row. I'm hoping those workers come back today and finish what they started....as long as it doesn't involve combustion.
Les pompiers (firefighters) brought an impressive amount of hoses with them. Fortunately, they didn't have to unwind these ones too.