Wednesday, May 23, 2012


When Linn and I first moved into our building, we got some sideways looks from friends who couldn't believe we were moving to a spot that isn't exactly known for wholesome activities.  But in the year we've lived here, it's turned out to be a pretty quiet building.  Well, maybe "quiet" isn't exactly the right word.  The guy below us blasts music at odd hours, our bedroom window looks out on a fairly busy parking lot, and we're next door to a church that is quite lively on Saturdays and some weekday evenings.  But there hasn't been much activity that crossed the line from makes-me-feel-annoyed-because-I-was-sleeping to makes-me-feel-unsafe.

Well, the other night we had major excitement outside.  Linn and I were in the living room and we were both working on our computers with headphones on.  At one point I heard a loud, sustained beep, but we hear honking and car alarms all the time, so I didn't give it much thought.  A little while later I got up and went into the bedroom, which overlooks the parking lot, and couldn't believe my eyes.

Out back was a fire truck with all its lights on and six firemen hosing down a van.  The van was parked right outside our window and was on fire!  Like, actual flames!  I called for Linn to come look.  He, of course, wanted to go downstairs and get the scoop on what was happening.  I, of course, wanted to stay upstairs in my PJs.

The view from our bedroom window--very close!
I watched from the window as the firefighters put out the flames.  The van looked completely gutted.  The roof was totally gone and I could see the glass from the windows shattered on the pavement.  All that was left of the seats were the metal frames.

That blinding light on the right is the fire truck
Well, this story is a little anticlimactic because it turns out we missed most of the excitement.  I did see some flames, but apparently at one point they were 20 feet high!  The loud beeping we had heard was the van's horn short-circuiting.  Linn talked to the fire inspector and she said that no one seemed to know who the van belonged to or how the fire started.  There's going to be an investigation and an official repot.

Oh yeah, Linn asked her about the report because guess whose car was parked next to the burning van?  That's right.  Ours.  Luckily it fared pretty well.  The windshield is cracked and there are melty spots along the front bumper, headlight, and right side mirror.  So it needs some repairs, but it's completely drivable.  Now I just get to have the always enjoyable experience of dealing with the insurance company.  Woohoo!

There's the van and our car to the right.  You can see shattered glass on the pavement.  And that's my bike in the bottom left corner.  The real tragedy would have been if something had happened to my bike!
An hour later, the van was gone.  It would be poetic to say that it was as if nothing had ever happened.  Sadly, there is still glass and bits of roof all over the parking lot and it still smells pretty toxic.

To me, the craziest part of this story isn't the fire.  It's that Linn and I managed to not notice anything was going on until it was almost over.  Next time there's an exciting incident in the parking lot, I'll be sure to figure it out sooner so I can report back on all the details!  For now, though, things are back to not-too-quiet normal.

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