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Fire at my house!

July 16, 2006

The fire wasn’t this bad, but I was really afraid this was what my house was about to look like.

Luckily a woman walking by my house saw the smoke and started yelling. I was in my kitchen snacking before jumping in the shower at about 7:45 p.m. when I heard her from below.

“Hey lady! Lady! Hey lady! Your house is on fire!” I’d smelled smoke already, but thought it was drift from barbeque at the Free Geek Fair down the street. The woman had seen me in the kitchen, and I went to the window and asked her where the fire was. She said it was upstairs, and like a crazy person the first thing I did was run up there, where I didn’t see a fire but could see and smell the dank smoke of a housefire.

Next order of business was 911. My hands were violently shaking, and I couldn’t think of anything. Where’s my purse? What should I get? I thought about a little essay I wrote in grade school about what our family would grab in the event of a housefire. Meanwhile the operator was yelling at me to get out of the house, and I want to tell her I have to go because I need two hands, dammit!

Barefoot, I turned off the stove and went to the closet to grab my box of photos. That was a no brainer. But after that, what do you save when the whole place might go down? Suddenly all my possessions seemed equally meaningless. To be truthful, I thought about getting my clothes (some of you know about my closets), but I didn’t want to be seen dragging out all that thriftstore treasure for the small crowd gathering outside my house to see. In the end I left with my homework and a laundry basket with a couple pairs of clothes and got out of the house.

Five fire trucks roared up in a cacophony within minutes, and by that time I was falling apart. It was so unsettling to see my house on fire, not knowing if anything would remain. I called my mom and some friends, who all appeared in minutes. My house is an old 4-plex, and the main fire was in my neighbor’s apartment.

I’m happy to report that I’m writing from my apartment now, and the only damage to my home is to the roof. There were no hoses brought up my stairs, no axes, no ashes everywhere. There’s a distinct smell of smoke, but otherwise I got off easy. Whew!

One thing this ordeal reminded me of is how indelible the effects of a crisis is on your person, whether you want to be affected or not. Long after the event I still felt crazy and unable to focus. My mind was curiously blank – I couldn’t seem to remember anything or keep my mind on any strain of thought. Luckily I had tickets to Talkdemonic at the Doug Fir and still went. Their hypnotic synth-y music was just what I needed. My sweet and I had an extra ticket, and we gave it to Kevin from Stars of Track & Field who was standing in line when we arrived. So we even did our duty to help a musician out to see another great Portland band.

I’m so glad that my house is intact and that I still have a place to live. I feel so lucky!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeff permalink
    July 16, 2006 6:25 pm

    Holy crap!

  2. M. J. W. permalink
    July 16, 2006 6:38 pm

    WOW! I am so glad it wasn’t worse for you. Do you know how it started? Will the smell of smoke come out of your things?

    I’m SO HAPPY YOU ARE OK!!!!!!!

  3. July 16, 2006 11:40 pm

    It was started next door, details unclear on exactly what happened…

    My apartment stinks, but at this point I’m optimistic. I’m just so glad everything is here!

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