One of the Object's most endearing qualities is that he will wake up for almost anything I deem important and immediately recognize its importance. Case in point, a few weeks ago at 3 in the morning a belligerent drunk guy was trying to get out of being arrested by acting insane, which made the cops really
angry. I shook the Object gently, saying, "Psst! Wake up; there's a drunk guy getting arrested!" Instead of whinging that it was time for sleeping, he sat bolt upright. Holding hands, we watched the show as Nutty McGee danced for the coppers. Watching people beg for a tasering is about as close to romantic as we get.
In any case, last night I'm pretty sure the whole neighborhood, not just the Object and I, were watching the events of the inky night hours unfold, since there's no WAY anyone within a 12 block radius of 3145 Mount Pleasant Street was sleeping. After an evening watching amateur soccer
, I flopped into bed pretty early last night. Just as I was drifting off, I smelled something familiar, a cozy smell that reminded me of fall, crunching leaves, burning firewood, ahhhhhh.
Then my brain kicked it into overdrive. IT IS NOT FALL! IT IS SPRING! BURNING SMELL BAD! BURNING SMELL BAD! DO NOT SLEEP WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP! NOT OK TO SLEEEEEEEEP! Usually I just ignore my brain when it's telling me not to sleep, but I couldn't help noticing an odd strip of clouds drifted southwest
through the sky, not east
. And since when do clouds travel in strips? "Psssst, wake up! Do clouds move southwest?"
"I don't think so. Maybe?"
"Is that smoke?"
"There's so much of it!"
As I was dialing 911, the sirens started. More sirens than I thought actually existed in the District of Columbia; I was duly impressed. Not long after, groups of people started coming down Columbia Road. While that's not a terribly unusual thing for a Wednesday at 1 in the morning, two things made the exodus suspect. First, people were walking west on Columbia Road, rather than stumbling east from 18th street where all the bars are, and second and even more odd, they didn't sound or look completely shitfaced
. If that's not cause for concern, I don't know what is.
I popped on my robe, went outside the back of my building and saw a scene straight out of Rebecca
. A few blocks away huge flames licked the sky - I couldn't even see the building. I've never seen anything like it in my whole life. It turns out the conflagration was a five-alarm apartment fire
, the first in the District since the 70's; four surrounding buildings were evacuated. The building is apparently cashed, and from early reports, it sounds like complaints about fire code violations were ignored for quite some time. Two hundred people are sans home this morning; keep your thoughts with them.
I was terrified last night that we'd be hearing some pretty grim numbers this morning, since I'm extremely suspicious of DC fire-fighting system. In a four-alarm blaze last fall just a few blocks away, the hydrants didn't work
, and a few weeks ago, I saw some firefighters on Euclid Street left several meters of firehose attached to a hydrant after a house call (which was apparently a false alarm). They left the scene and about three minutes later, came back down the street to fetch the hose, a few firemen jogging alongside the engine like a bunch of clowns. The bumbling scene would have been hilarious had it not been literally so close to home- just one block away.
Here's the cool part about last night: NO ONE WAS HURT.
Well, one firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation, and he's evidently doing well this morning; everyone else was uninjured. The only ones are the loss of home, property, and memories - not life. It's not an ideal situation, but it's somewhat restored my faith in the ability of DC firefighters to fight fire.
Still, I'm buying rental insurance.