Last night we had a fire. When I say we I mean in the condo block - not our building. Nor, to be honest, was it much of a fire.
When I arrived home and was locking my car one of the neighbours approached in a somewhat agitated frame of mind, asking if I could smell smoke. As it happened I couldn't but I pointed out that there was (still is at the time of writing) a bushfire burning to the south west of the Greater Phoenix area. That's some distance away but prevailing winds, such as they are, blow the smoke toward us. Indeed, half an hour earlier, as I drove past Sky HarboUr Airport I was greatly tempted to pull over in the emergency lane and take a quick shot of the sun through thick smoke; it was blood red and the entire scene bathed in a soft golden light quite unlike that normally seen here this time of year.
She was somewhat doubtful (perhaps it was my accent) but went away so I did too.
A couple of minutes later we became aware of shouting and screaming outside and poked our heads out. The same woman was running back and forth, yelling for buckets of water and we could see a few wisps of smoke curling around the balcony on the next building over.
Before we could do anything else the fire trucks arrived. Most definitely in the plural; within about five minutes there were six full sized appliances plus a couple of smaller trucks, a police car, the local power company and CBS 5 News. Oh, and the news helicopter hovering overhead!
I have to say the firefighters seemed to enjoy their job! Out came the pick axes and the buzz saw; they kicked in the door of the condo seeming most affected and proceeded to chop holes in various walls to isolate the source of the smoke.
I should probably be somewhat circumspect about what the hysterical neighbour was saying; she was insistent that the fire was the result of a bunch of younger renters throwing their cigarettes over the balcony. This doesn't quite jibe with what the firefighters were saying; they reckon it was electrical wiring and I'm more inclined to believe them than a hysterical layman.
I suppose it was tactless to roll and light up a cigarette while she was trying to convince me!
Once it was clear the place wasn't going up in flames the atmosphere became almost festive. Naturally everyone living there (I'm guessing there are a hundred or so apartments) was out rubbernecking. Everyone except the poor bastards occupying the source of the smoke; they seem to be out of town. Someone had the forethougt to post a note on the door so when they do return they won't assume burglary.
I've lived here five and a half years and I didn't recognise most of the folk there! Sonya's lived here eight years and she knew almost no one either. We met the woman who lives four doors up; she's lived here since 1984! I honestly don't think I'd clapped eyes on her before yesterday. Sad commentary on modern community life methinks!
The CBS 5 news report was interesting. Uh huh, I've finally watched network news on TV here! According to them there were flames shooting everywhere and one neighbour was credited with saving the life of a resident. Can't say I saw that!
I said before that everyone living here was out rubbernecking. I lied a little; Andrew totally ignored it and continued playing World of Warcraft. I'm starting to get worried about that boy!