Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just Another Friday Night in Allston

Last night, I was awakened from my sleep just past 1:30 am by the sounds of sirens and breaking glass from the street. I couldn't figure out who in the world would continue breaking bottles while the police were there, but I chalked it up to drunkeness and tried to fall back to sleep.

However, the sudden sound of a pounding at my front door prompted me out of bed. Someone had run up the stairs and was pounding on all the doors. I grabbed my warm blanket, wrapped it around me and opened my door to find myself staring at the equally confused girl who lives across the hall. Just then, one of the upstairs neighbors came running down the stairs saying that the building next door was on fire.

The four buildings in my condominium are separate in name only. There is really only a thin layer of bricks between the buildings. (The units in the buildings are separated by walls made of horsehair plaster.) So despite the fact that the fire was in the building next door, there was a real fear that the fire could spread into our building. I threw on my sweats and my Ugg boots over my pajamas, grabbed my Land's End winter jacket and my purse, ran to the bathroom (which was filling with the smell of burning plastic) and left the building. My legs were shaking, but I felt calm. I never thought once about what I was going to save, other than myself, and staying warm.

When I got outside, I realized that what I mistook for someone breaking bottles was actually the windows of the top floor unit breaking from the heat of the fire. Glass littered the ground. There were three fire trucks outside the building, and a ladder stretched up to the roof. Firefighters were all over the block as well as EMTs and hoses ran down the block from hydrants in different directions.

Those of us standing around outside couldn't really figure out what was going on. The lights in the apartment were off, and you could see the flashlights of the men inside moving around. However, the lights in the units below were on, so you could tell the building still had power. We stood outside for nearly an hour as the Boston Fire Department did their thing. I went to talk to our property manager as he stood outside waiting for news from the fire chief and ended up getting sprayed a little bit when the water came out of the window. Eventually, we were given the all clear to go back inside. The fire had been contained in the one apartment.

The upside of this adventure was I got to talk to some of my neighbors who I usually just pass in the hallway or laundry room with a smile and a nod. One of the guys upstairs came outside with his dad's old camera and a stuffed rabbit, which he explained belonged to his girlfriend. (I told him it was good that he had his priorities in order, with a wink.) It will be interesting to see if things become a little less anonymous going forward.

When I got back inside, the adrenaline started to wear off, and I really started to shake. I made a pot of tea and called Sister K for a short, but calming, chat. I ended up putting on Possession, and I felt better just seeing some glimpses of London and the British Museum. (If you didn't that I was an Angophile before, gentle reader, I hope that this has removed all trace of doubt for you.) It took me ages to fall back to sleep, and I still ended up waking up at 7:30 am. As I write this, I can hear the people in the building next door going through their units. (They are being kind of loud actually.) I wonder if they got badly water damaged. I wonder how they are going to go about getting them fixed. I count my blessings that my home wasn't damaged and that no one was hurt.


  1. WOW! I'm glad you are safe and there was no damage to your flat.

  2. The fact that you were writing a blog today already told me that you were safe...I am glad to hear that all your stuff is safe too! Your Friday night was alot more interesting than mine :)

  3. Melanie! I can't believe this happened to you! I'm so happy that your house and especially you are okay.



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