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Jun 06

The Fire Across the Street

fireIn the wee hours of the morning, I was awakened by the sound of someone banging on doors. The people that live in the small complex across the street are a bit lively, so I thought nothing of it. I heard screams and someone yell, “Call 911, _____’s apartment is on fire!” Oh snap, this must be serious! I saw clouds of black smoke from the top unit, there were people standing around, and I could hear the sirens. Although it seemed like it took the firefighters forever to get there, it really only took a little less than 5 minutes. Everything escalated quickly!! One minute I saw smoke, a man running upstairs to get the people out, someone screaming for him not to go, and then in an instant…a fully combusted fire from the downstairs unit.

At this moment, my mind began to wander. I don’t hear smoke alarms. Am I a jerk for just standing here, looking out of my window and taking pictures? Should I go help and offer refuge? I felt bad. Then I saw the loud mouth lady screaming, “Move my @#%^& car, move my car! F it, I’ll move my own car!” She did move her car, but she blocked the fire trucks access. Dummy!  Then, my thoughts began to wander. Why are the EMTs standing in my grass? All of that sidewalk and y’all choose the grass. Mr. Jones lives three blocks over, what is he doing over here and how did he get here so fast? Oh lord, the gurney, why do they have the gurney? Did someone get hurt. What happened to the man that ran upstairs. Damn, I still don’t hear smoke alarms. Do children live there? That’s a very, very small apartment, I’m sure they lost everything. Where will they go?

As daylight came, I saw the lady cleaning out her apartment. Red Cross was there very early to offer some assistance. People were standing around watching, the same people that sit around drinking, laughing, and arguing were standing around watching her clean out her apartment alone. I went to work thinking about this lady, I thought about her at work, and I came home thinking about her. I can still smell the fire and burned items from behind the closed doors of my home and I keep looking out the window wondering if I’d see her. I feel bad that I didn’t help. I didn’t help, because I thought her neighbors would help. I didn’t help, because I really don’t like those people across the street. I don’t know how I could have helped, but I didn’t lift a finger, provide refuge, help clean up, or do anything useful. I did nothing except take a picture and pray. The fact that I did nothing bothers me.

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