On Sunday morning, we heard there had been a fire overnight, just a block away. (I guess I've been sleeping pretty soundly lately!) The professor walked up to take a photo of what it looked like and shot a photo. The house was vacant and a block from ours. Here's a news article
about this story.
Later in the afternoon, I settled down on the sofa to listen to my audiobook and do some knitting. I looked out the front window of my house. I saw an enormous plume of smoke and fire trucks rushing to the scene...the house caught fire a second time.
The professor went out to see what was going on, along with about half
the neighborhood...(bear in mind that the temperature was maybe about 10F, tops)
During the first fire, the firefighters had used nearby hydrants, which had then frozen over. (these are apparently steam cleaned later to keep them safe for use during the winter, but it was a weekend.)
Those hydrants were too frozen to use, so the fire trucks began to access hydrants on o
ur block and on Corydon Avenue, which meant that 2 or 3 blocks of Stafford, a v
ery busy street, were completely blocked off. We had been planning to over to a friend's house for our usual Sunday night discussion group. I got kind of nervous about leaving the dogs or leaving home. (This was a big fire- a block away from our house.)
Here's a photo of our house, with a fire truck right beside it...
A few phone calls later, our friends agreed
to come over to our house instead...but I had to give them instructions about where to drive and park! Usually, we all bring along side dishes and dessert to go with pizza that someone has ordered. I tried to figure out how we would easily order pizza given the hoopla outside our front door. I decided to start some pizza dough--and I made pizza at home instead.
Our friends came over and we settled down to a cozy evening--with flashing light accompaniment. There was a fire truck and a police cruiser parked directly in the intersection outside our house, complete with flashing lights. The fire fighting continued. The firefighters had to chop down trees to access the house to fight the fire. It was a busy night.
Just as we were eating our (homemade)pizza at the dining room table, the doorbell rang. I rushed out to answer it, and there was a pizza delivery guy! He had our address. I double/triple checked with our friends. Had anyone ordered a pizza by mistake?
The pizza delivery guy called the unfamiliar number on the order.
"Oops!" The two young police officers said, as they rushed up to our door. "We got hungry and ordered pizza...we had to use your address! Sorry about that..." (I wish I'd known, I would have ju
st handed them some of our homemade pizza!)
At bed time, we had to close all our blinds carefully, as the flashing lights and blocked off roadways were still an issue. Luckily, our house was closed up tight against winter wind and weather so we didn't smell too much smoke.
The next morning, the professor got up bright and early and read in the paper that a woman named Gayle (with a last name the same as the professor's surname) owned these two adjacent vacant houses (including the one that burned down) and she'd been planning to tear these down to build a condo complex--a block from our house. This was news to us, but the "news" continued.
At 7:15AM on Monday, the CBC
called, asking to speak to Gayle. (No Gayle here, the professor explained, as I bolted out of bed...sure there was another emergency...)
Again later on Monday, another news gathering source called asking to speak to Gayle. Again, I had to explain, "No, Gayle doesn't live here...we don't know anyone by that name."
This is what the house looked like when we saw it on Monday. The sidewalks outside are an ice rink, and the house is pretty well destroyed.
In general, I am frustrated that people have been buying up 100 year old houses and property in our mostly residential neighborhood without maintaining or restoring them. These folks are then allowing the houses to sit vacant and deteriorate, and then hoping to turn it into commercial or multi-family development opportunities. In particular, if I ever bump into Gayle, well, I'll ask for her phone number so I can direct those early morning news hounds in her direction...!
Mostly, I'm grateful to the firefighters, who kept us and our big old wooden house safe only a block away from this enormous fire.
I'm also hoping this week will be quiet and much less eventful!
Labels: discussion group, fire, fire trucks, old houses