Well. That was certainly bracing.

It started with a klaxon bell at 4:30 yesterday morning.

From a distance, I understand it looked like this:

The tall building behind the smoke? Yeah. That’s where I live.

[If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling awfully nervous at this point in the story. Lemme jump ahead a moment and reassure everyone: I am okay. Hildi and Nathan are both okay. Everyone else is okay too: no lives were lost, either among my neighbors or the firefighters.] 

You can see a few more pictures here.

Since my evacuated neighbors and I all ended up standing on a sidewalk a block or two away, we didn’t see most of this as it was happening. These pictures look as new — and frighteningly dramatic! — to me today as they probably will to you. (I’m rather partial to Nos. 2 and 9, myself.)

In fact, until I heard from a young woman who lives several floor below me, in a unit facing south towards the site of the fire, I had no idea how bad this really was. I got my first clue as she described how she woke up: “my window was bright orange from the flames, and it was already hard to breathe from the smoke — even though my window was only open that far!” [Gestured an inch apart with her fingers.] She described how much trouble she had had catching her scared cat, while the smoke grew thicker.

Nathan had run from me and hid too, frightened by the loud alarm and flashing strobe. (Hildi, as I have long suspected, has apparently gone almost entirely deaf in her old age and didn’t notice the alarm until her carrier was directly under it.)

At this point, I began to understand why so many folks had come out to the street wearing only their underwear.

Here’s what happened: a two-story restaurant that has been “under construction” for a very long time, just an alley’s-distance away from the high-rise where I live, caught fire yesterday morning. The fire burned from 4:30 to 6:15 a.m. and required over 100 firefighters to put out. While my building never caught fire, it suffered damage from the smoke and heat, including windows shattering up through the seventh floor.

No one was allowed back into my building yesterday without a fire department escort until evening, when our own fire alarm system was fully restored. The cats and I got back home about 9:30 last night, after a day spent waiting for news at the homes of two separate friends [many many thanks again, D and A! couldn’t have gotten through the day without you!!]. To my great relief, my own apartment was unaffected, other than a lingering smell reminiscent of a campfire.

Hildi was so pleased to be back home, she promptly yacked all over the sofa throw pillows.

I was so pleased, I promptly decided to buy all new cushions and threw the soiled ones in the trash without any attempt to clean.

And I actually was pleased, since all day I had been expecting her to vomit from the stress and her kidney disease while we were still at a friend’s house. [Hildi says: “you’re welcome, A!” She’d ask for appreciation from D too — but I have informed her that peeing on someone’s carpet loses you any gratitude points owed for not having puked on it instead.]

Here’s what my building looks like this morning:

2015-09-16 07.45.20

And I’d show you the burned building too, except…

2015-09-16 07.44.33

…it no longer exists.

I’d like to end with a little Wednesday morning gratitude:

I am grateful to the friends who helped and supported me yesterday,

to the people who took me in and fed me, to the many more who offered to take me in if I needed it,

to all of the love and well wishes I’ve received from friends new and old. 

I am grateful that no one was seriously injured.

I am grateful to the Philadelphia fire department and emergency response teams.

And while I am grateful that my home and my things were spared, I am even more grateful for the reminder that things are just things — life is what matters. Life and love. Everything else is just icing. 

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m feeling a tad wobbly today from the delayed stress effect. I think I may soothe myself by baking a cake. If you’d like a slice, just grab a fork and swing by Philly!

You can’t miss my place — it’s the tall building missing all the windows.

# # #

How about you? What does your midweek gratitude list include? 

35 thoughts on “Well. That was certainly bracing.

  1. I saw that fire in the news! Glad you and your cats were ok. My greatest fear is trying to corral my cats into carriers in case of any emergency. One hides in the middle of “under the bed.” You know that place you can’t reach.


    1. Thanks! I’m still not quite sure how I got Nath into his carrier as quickly as I did, since he tends to fight me on that.

      I don’t *think* I ended up just lowering him in by his tail — but I’m pretty sure he realized I would have if I needed to!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Not too worried about my stove, as the fire was officially declared arson yesterday. But I ended up not baking when I realized my legs were in no shape for standing up longer than absolutely necessary, that first day! Teleporting down 15 flights of smoky stairs carrying two cats, standing 4 hours on the sidewalk waiting for information, an all-day state of fight-or-flight tension = all added up to feeling like I’d just run a marathon while being chased by zombies! FAST zombies.

      But not to worry! I’m attending a dinner party on Sunday, so I still have an excuse to get my bake on. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How very frightening. I’ve experienced two fires personally, and it is a scary, disorienting feeling. So very very glad that you and the kitties are OK. You should make a list of anything you discard — pictures would be good too. You might be able to have insurance — yours or the restaurant’s — replace them.

    So very glad you’re ok.. I know I said that. Bu fire is really quite scary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Elyse. I *knew* (theoretically) how stressful even “just missed me!” fires can be — but living through it gives me a whole different understanding! Luckily, doesn’t seem as though I’ll need to discard anything. Other than the pillows Hildi puked on, that is! 😉


  3. That is so scary! But, I’m so glad everyone is ok! And your place is still livable! I hope you have ways to de-stress, after such a stressful situation! Sending love.♡

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, yes, and yes — it was most definitely all three of those things! And SO grateful everyone is okay. 🙂

      [Totally unrelated: if a person wanted to send an email to you sometime in the next two weeks or so, is there an address on your blog that said person can use?]

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is an address, but as this blogger never thinks to check that address how about my personal email instead.
        Secret: the blog email is for looks mostly, a half-hearted attempt to keep the crazies away from my real world 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Whew. Sitting here in California wildfire land – with my snoring cat – this type of stuff has definitely been on my mind and gets me all caught in the throat at how frightening it can be. We have been having a family lose their home pretty much each week here for a while now – and I still don’t think we take it seriously enough. But I am grateful for what I do have in place and for the amazing community who always takes care of our own, no matter the circumstances. And thanks for the reminder to think about gratitude. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh wow. Thank YOU for the reminder that part of the country is dealing with this level of stress day in, day out. Nothing can make losing your home not-a-trauma, but having community that takes care of one another makes all the difference in the healing, I’m sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So glad you and the kitties and everyone else is okay. A fire, even if not your own, can definitely take a toll so I hope you are being extra gentle with yourself. and poor Hildy. Our cats get traumatized from merely the vacuum cleaner so I can imagine a fire and temporary displacement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh she’s fearless in the face of vacuum cleaners! She took on her first vacuum when she was just a few months old. Granted, it was off at the time. But still — she stalked the vacuum from across the room, getting right up to the slightly-ajar closet door, and then…whap! whap! whap! smacked it three times with her paw — and jumped back to see what it would do. After a few repetitions of this, she apparently decided she’d asserted sufficient dominance. Never been afraid of them since!

      Thanks for your thoughts. Much appreciated!


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