Yesterday evening, there was a big fire on my block.
It was across the street, and I thought it was the corner house, but it wasn't; it was one a couple down from that, so closer to my building than I could tell from the window. I'd been home for an hour or so when I heard the big engines outside. Sometimes we get fire engines and they stay for a while, then drive off (I assume because of small fires, or false alarms). These didn't drive off, and then I heard thump, thump, thump, shatter! Broken glass.
I went to the window, opened it, and saw smoke billowing up. A mix of rain and sleet was coming down pretty heavily, but I could smell the smoke very strongly; I closed the window. I decided not to go downstairs, as the firemen were quite busy enough dragging hoses, hooking them up to hydrants, trudging back and forth to the Second Alarmer truck. I could see a fireman moving around on the roof, with a bright searchlight. It was a little nervewracking. I assumed if there was a chance of it spreading, someone would alert us, but I was still distracted. In my neighborhood, if houses don't share walls, there is only a small alley between them. And the houses are very old.
I called C. and told her about it while I tidied and sorted my 2010 tax receipts into three piles: postage costs, books, and other (I still have to tally it all up and make sure everything belongs). I lost patience with the task and the fire was still going on. Paramedics had arrived, and the Salvation Army; the firemen blocked off their trucks with yellow tape. I did some hand laundry, and put away clean laundry. Still going on. I read more of an Emma Holly novel involving hijinks at a dude ranch.
About three hours after the trucks had arrived, the fire seemed to be under control. The trucks left, one by one.
When I walked past this morning, since I didn't get a snow day, I saw the house that burned was closer to me than I'd thought. All the windows and the door were boarded up. The building next door to it also had its top floor windows boarded up, so the fire did spread a little before it was brought under control. I'm not sure where the inhabitants went - I am pretty sure that house had been made over into apartments. There's no report of any fatalities, thank goodness. But still. Scary.