A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

When I woke up this morning, my first lucid thought was, “Hang on. That damn fan is off again. I definitely turned it on when I got up to pee a few hours ago.” And then I wondered if, however unlikely, Kalen had gotten cold and turned it back off. Then our security system chirped and my brain screeched to a halt while I tried to remember what a single beep meant. I won’t make you guess. The power was out.

The wiring in our house, like a lot of the rest of the house’s critical components, is kind of piece-meal and in need of attention. Some of it is very old, and some of it is only kind of old, and other parts are tip-top new. So then we got to play a special early morning edition of everyone’s favorite electricity-related game: “Where’d the power go?” My favorite starting move in this game is to see if I can tell whether the neighbors are also without power. Unfortunately it was about 6:20 and the sun was already up enough that porch lights and television glow were not readily available. Streetlights were also entirely unhelpful. The next move is usually a team effort. I check online for hints (news stories, notice from the electric company, etc.) while Kalen checks to see if we’ve thrown a breaker. You’d think that at 6:20 when we are all asleep the chances of throwing a breaker would be pretty slim, but sometimes the outside box sits right in the sun and even with nothing else particularly running, just the AC trying to kick on will shut it all down. It usually takes more than that, but it has happened.

This morning the power failure was not within our property (hooray!). It was just another large fire and power had been lost to a small portion of town as a result. And here’s the wacky part: The thing that made me gasp and think “Really? That’s shocking! No way!” wasn’t that there was a fire, or that there was a power outage because of the fire. My shock came from the fact that the fire was a block and a half from my house at one o’clock in the morning, involved several trucks with assistance from other fire districts and we slept through it.

That’s right. We slept through all the sirens associated with an enormous structure fire a block and a half away from our house.

I’ve mentioned before that we live in an interesting neighborhood. The police station and fire department are both pretty close and fly down the adjacent street to various emergencies with their sirens wailing on a daily basis, and I guess after nearly six years living here, we’ve finally tuned them out.

Another interesting thing I’d like to note about this whole debacle is that the fire was at a historic apartment (I think it’s three individual buildings but they might be connected. I’m not sure, I don’t look that closely) that had just gotten some attention in hopes of getting it fixed up. And that’s the second time in two years that that sentence is accurate about a structure within two blocks of my house. The improbability is staggering.

See, in December 2020, a totally different historic apartment building in my neighborhood was also listed as a historic place in danger, and then went up in flames in the middle of the night. I thought the danger the list was concerned about was dilapidation and abandonment or the inevitable ravages of time, but apparently it should be made clear to the historical society that the real danger is fire.

Admittedly, a picture of the fire would be more impressive than this “after” shot, but we slept through that one too.

Tomorrow I’m going to hang out with a friend that I haven’t gotten to spend much time with in quite a while, and we aren’t sure yet what we are going to do, but I might just suggest something that is becoming an unsettlingly common activity for me, but which I suspect is not a frequent pastime in most other places (at least, I hope not), “Let’s walk around the block and see the fire damage!”

P.S. As I was letting this post rest so I could give it one more read-through before sharing, I came to the mildly interesting realization that I used to read a blog called “Burning Building” that never actually talked about buildings being on fire, but now I am writing a blog and this post is about burning buildings. Weird.

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