just when we thought life was going to slow down…
(for those of you who aren’t on facebook or instagram, or who want the more detailed story…)
last thursday morning i got up at 6:30am, made my husband’s coffee and lunch and sent him out the door to work. then i crawled back into bed. 2 hours later i was awoken by loud knocking on my front door. my neighboring tenant was standing there on the phone with 9-1-1, eyes wide saying “there’s a fire in the carport!” i grabbed my phone, slipped on some shoes and stepped outside (still in my pajama shorts and a tshirt) to see a police officer come around the corner and say “we need to evacuate the building right now!”
i didn’t even think, i just did what the officer said. i went from door to door knocking loudly and telling the tenants that they needed to go out to the front of the building right away. at one point i looked up over the roof of the 2nd story and saw flames and black smoke billowing up ABOVE the roof. i couldn’t believe it was THAT high. as i headed out to the front with everyone else, i looked back toward the carport and caught a brief glimpse of the actual fire. it was very scary.
here’s a video that was posted on youtube of the fire from the back of the building:
NO ONE WAS HURT AT ALL.
about half of my tenants were home at the time and we all stayed in front of the building for about an hour while the firefighters and police worked to put out the fire. they all heroically managed to keep the fire contained in the parking area – but just barely! (a couple of the volunteer SMFD guys came back by later in the afternoon and said that 60 more seconds and the fire would have spread to the actual apartment building.) the fire was out within 20 minutes, but then they had to ensure that the building was safe for all of us before we were allowed back in.
what started the fire? a maintenance worker had arrived to do some work on our building. he parked his truck in an empty space in the carport area and came into the courtyard to check on the repairs needed. when he went back out to his car there were flames coming out from under the hood! it was a little nuts. believe it or not, cars CAN just burst into flame like that. zach was once in a car that did that and one of my tenants’ had a car that did that several years ago. isn’t that crazy?! they are still investigating to try and find out what caused the car to combust…
once we were allowed back into the building area, i took this picture of the burned section. the fire burned through the row of storage cabinets (and all their contents) along the wall, as well as 2 cars parked on that row.
several cars that were parked opposite the wall suffered heat damage. ours was one of them. you can see in this next picture of our mazda 6 how anything plastic (tail lights, bumper surface, etc) got quite melty just from the heat…
2 tenants lost their cars completely. and everyone lost pretty much anything that they had in the storage cabinets.
most of what we had stored in the cabinet was christmas & fall decorations, a box of books and some other miscellaneous gear of zach’s. while nearly all of it is replaceable, i was sad to lose all the christmas ornaments my mom had given me for the last 15ish years as well as a few sentimental christmas items that i had had as a kid. but honestly, it was just “stuff” and very little of it was “irreplaceable” and nearly all of it will be covered under our renter’s insurance. it’s a good reminder that it’s all stuff i ultimately can’t take with me.
however, most of my tenants did not fare so well. many of them – on top of not having renter’s insurance to cover their losses – had very sentimental items stored in those cabinets (christmas memorabilia, wedding dress, baby photo albums, etc). it is really sad.
i have to say though, the people who live in my building really shined during this whole situation. everyone was right there helping and comforting each other, recounting how grateful they were that it was JUST the carport and NOT the building, repeating many ways of how it could have been so much worse, etc. everyone stayed super calm and patient, allowing the firemen and policemen to do their jobs fully. one of the police officers actually came and commended my tenants to me. it was a very encouraging moment despite the disaster.
it’s been a bit stressful and sad dealing with the aftermath of the whole incident. i discovered that i am very calm and practical under extreme conditions – the practical side of me takes over and i immediately go about what needs to be done. the emotion and exhaustion didn’t hit until later. friday i felt so dazed and distracted. aside from starting the claim process with the insurance company and finishing up some work that was due that day (again, what HAD to get done), i found it difficult to focus and/or work on much else. and i didn’t even realize the toll it all was taking on my body until i tried to get out of bed for first service on sunday morning! (translate: i went to 2nd service, ha!)
i am so grateful for the many evidences of God’s mercy through it all.
but um, could life settle down a little now? maybe? please?