Tuesday, December 21, 2010

fiery Sunday

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 our block and on Corydon Avenue, which meant that 2 or 3 blocks of Stafford, a very 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 just 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!

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Blogger Jame said...

That is almost too much excitement! I'm glad that you and your house are safe.

I wonder if the reporters were calling all the neighbors in hopes of finding Gayle.

December 22, 2010 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

I wondered if it were arson, and then went and read the article. I hope that any efforts to profit off that deliberate destruction that endangered lives will get completely turned down by the city, apart from the more personal consequences due to the perp. I'm so sorry that happened.

December 22, 2010 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Glad you are safe. Such resourcefulness - making your own pizza dough in the middle of the excitement!

December 22, 2010 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger AdrieneJ said...

Wow! That IS scary! Glad to hear you're all safe and sound. It's such a shame to see those beautiful old houses lost... I wonder if Gayle will think twice about letting things sit about for so long. I can't imagine she's going to come out on top after all that.

December 24, 2010 at 2:06 PM  

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