A Neighborhood Fire

It’s always a sobering experience to witness a fire in the city. It reminds you just how quickly something like a small kitchen fire can escalate – how rapidly flames can spread through rows of townhouses, old timber crackling like paper. Today marked the third fire I’ve witnessed on my neighborhood in the six years I’ve lived in my house. The first was our own house – our back porch went up in smoke in what ranks as one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. The second fire, which started around the corner in a house that backs into our alley, affected some five or seven houses as an early morning fire went undetected until it was too late to save at least two of the houses from ruin.

Today, screaming sirens and that unmistakable acrid smell sent my heart racing. I ran outside to see that the house on the corner was burning, just two doors down from us. Scores of firetrucks came to the rescue, with firemen on the roof bashing through the second floor windows as shattered glass and clouds of black smoke escaped.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs
The family stood on the sidewalk in shock, a woman barefoot in the freezing cold, as a fireman tried to talk them through what happened. I handed her some warm socks, well remembering what it felt like to stand outside in the cold while firemen batter breach holes and your stomach sinks. Neighbors poured out onto the street, reassured that everyone was ok, but united in the dread of what could have been. We all talked about fires past. My immediate neighbor, who’s lived on the block his whole life, told me a sober tale about a fire across the street, when it turned out that the nearby hydrants weren’t working and the firemen had to scramble to find one that did. Frightening stuff.

City life can feel so isolated, either intentionally or not, that events like this painfully remind us how interconnected we are – how one family’s tragedy could so easily become shared by all. Fire spreads. Maybe kindness can as well.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Writing for We Love DC restored her happiness after a life-threatening illness, and she’s grateful to you, dear readers. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

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