Yesterday (technically, it was yesterday) as I pulled into my driveway (after an extremely long but not totally horrific day at the office), I could see a police car, lights flashing, blocking entrance to the next lot over.
I pulled into my lot, got out of my car, walked toward my building, and even before I turned the corner, I could see the yellow tape blocking the way to my neighbor’s place.
As I got closer to the corner, I could see the tape blocked the entire walkway, and that I couldn’t get around that way.
I wasn’t sure what that meant, exactly, so I took a few steps farther…
And saw men carrying a very large, very suspicious-looking, large plastic bag out of the apartment next to mine, in the direction of flashing lights.
It would be hard to describe the sick, sad, sinking feeling. (Which was apparently and mercifully misplaced; I wasn’t seeing what I thought I was seeing. I’ll tell you that now so you don’t have to carry that worry around, as I did for a few horrible minutes.)
Every neighbor in the area was out, clustered, watching the comings and goings of the maintenance crews and the fire department. (Oh good. Fire trucks, not ambulances. I mean, still, not good. But better, right?)
Apparently a fire broke out in the attic several hours before. They’d been sorting it out ever since.
We all stood around for a really long time after that, until finally the fire department left and most of the neighbors went in.
All except those of us who couldn’t go anywhere, in that our destination was still blocked off.
Finally the tape came down, and the complex manager came and let us know that there had been an electrical fire in the attic. That the fire department had extinguished it. That we could return to our units. That the power, however, was out for the entire building and needed to stay off until an electrician could either identify and isolate the source of the problem, or confirm it was resolved. That the electrician was on the way, and they hoped to have our power back sometime tonight, but they didn’t know when. That because they didn’t know for sure, we might consider staying with friends or family in the area if that is an option and a preference.
So we went in. My downstairs neighbors came in, grabbed some things, left again.
I settled in a bit, realized that with nothing defrosted and no microwave I had nothing to eat, and called the local Chinese place to deliver.
I walked around my apartment and realized they had opened up the door to the eaves in my unit, and left it open, so I went outside to ask the lingering maintenance crew (when they get a free minute) what the plan was to replace those or whether it would have to wait until the electrician had checked things out.
So I went out, and sat on my stoop, and waited and watched the maintenance crew as they greeted the electrician, and picked up more large and otherwise suspicious-looking plastic bags of apparent tools and debris and various paraphernalia. I waited, not wanting to interrupt the more urgent work at hand.
I chatted with passersby, (most of whom were from surrounding buildings, curious and gawking). One of whom was my next door neighbor, whose unit took the brunt of the damage. He said everything in their place is completely ruined. (I could tell he was really shaken and upset, poor thing. I told him how sorry I was this had happened to them. I also told him how thankful I was that he and his wife hadn’t been hurt.) So we chatted a bit more and he went to find her in the direction she had most recently walked…
And then the maintenance crew started ringing bells (which without power, incidentally, don’t actually do anything) and once they figured that out started pounding on doors, and telling people to get out of the building.
In the course of testing the electricity to bring it back online, the fire had re-ignited. As electrical fires sometimes do, when the power comes back on.
So I ran back in and got my purse (I forgot my jacket and didn’t even think “grab the passport” only because despite a lack of imminent danger, I know you don’t linger in a potentially-burning building for mere “stuff”) and then I waited for my Chinese food in the courtyard outside my apartment. I hung around with the neighbors while we waited for the fire department to return. Most of us had bonded over Extreme Snow Removal Misadventures over the winter, so we reconnected and rebonded over this new Misadventure. I offered to share my food when it arrived to any who were hungry (no takers) and we chilled in the parking lot until finally we could go back in.
First order of business when I got back in was to pack a quick overnight bag in case we got re-evacuated.
But it’s been 3 hours and so far, so good. I think it might (might) be safe to put on some jammies and go to bed. Work tomorrow, and all.
Still, I think I’ll wear jammies I could stand around in the yard in, if I had to.