Terrified of Fires

2 Jan

I just read a news article that almost made my physically ill–I’m sure I am ghostly pallid and I know I am shaken.  The apartment complex directly next door has a bunch of trash stacked on the side of the building.  It’s been there since we moved to Spokane in mid-September.  I had no idea why some apartment would besmirch the premesis with random trash!  Very recently I noticed a tarp on the opposite side of the building with trash.  When I looked closer, I saw evidence of a major fire.  One entire side of the building was desiccated so much that I do not know how I didn’t see it before.  So of course I was curious about the origin and time of the fire so I looked it up on the internet.  Surprisingly, the fire had gleaned a lot of media attention.

On September 4, at 2:30 AM, there was a four alarm fire call to that complex.  It doesn’t say how long it took to get the flames to subside, but by the time the flames were extinguished the third floor was almost entirely damaged and 21 ( think) apartments were deemed uninhabitable, displacing 60 residents.  Avista turned off the utilities to the building to stop any further electrical or water damage.  Apparently, apartment complexes are only liable for structural damage–not personal property of tenants or housing for the extricated people.  Anyway, there was a shelter set up for the victims at a local elementary school.

Turns out, the fire started because a third floor resident inappropriately put out his cigarette in a potted plant on the balcony.  And the dope was unaware of anything irregular, and was awoken to neighbors knocking on his door warning him to evacuate!  Also, he deleteriously stored gasoline on the same balcony, so when the cig sparked, the gas ignighted.  The siding on the building was no help either, as it was very flammable.  I wonder if a person that causes a fire deemed “accidental” faces criminal charges.  That retard just messed up the lives of 60 residents, not to mention property management.  The news said neither the coterie of firemen who helped put out the blaze or residents were injured or killed, but I can’t help but wonder if all the pets made it out unscathed.  The three little girls that lived in the originating apartment were sad their birds perished in the flames.  Who knows what other pets were left to burn–I shudder to think. . .

This sort of thing scares me to death!  I have to trust our lives, the lives of my pets, and all our belongings to my neighbors?!  It makes me long for the day when I can forswear apartment living all together!  And I know most of the people living in non-Rococo apartment complexes are idiots–that smoke.  We have balconies and people are smoking on them all the time.  It makes me wonder how they are extinguishing their cigarette and what they are keeping on the balcony.  Has anyone made rules or checked?  I have no idea.  Even if it makes me look officious, I wrote my apartment complex asking them to reassure me that some recent precautions have been taken in light of the fire in such close proximity.  I want our management to be flippin’ vehement about fire prevention now that I know the story about the building next door.

I have always been terrified of a house fire–I guess I never thought I had to worry about my dumb neighbors on top of my own activities.  I have been fairly voluble about the problem to our current landlord–because I am honestly afraid.  I was verbose in my side-notes on the lease, criticizing the lack of smoking rules, and noting how though the lease prohibits BBQs, most balcony’s have one out there.  The landlord has remained consistently glib about the subject of fires, saying, “Accidents happen. . .”  Kidron says I should bother our landlord or be so talkative about my fire-fears, but you haven’t met our neighbors–I would be surprised if they DIDN’T cause a fire!  Cool is embarrassed that I am loquacious about living problems, but I would be more mortified if I held my tongue, and something terrible did happen when I didn’t at least try to prevent it.  I have never had a problem speaking easily about what I feel is right and wrong–but it HAS gotten me in trouble time and again.  I wanted to leave our lease unsigned until the landlord made substantial changes to prevent fires, but ended up being pressured by Cool and without courage to stand my ground.  The landlord either doesn’t care about the risks or ispusillanimous to lose tenants, because she completely downplayed all my fire-safety concerns.  I was not too timid in my e-mail correspondence to the landlord, going as far as to tell her I would involve the fire department if I had cause to fear for my safety.  I would just hate to have cowardly responses to the landlord then have the hardly-ornate complex, all my belongings, my cats, and our lives be taken by an accidental fire caused by the dumb neighbors.

Alex Carter, reporter for MSNBC writes, “Each year, outside cooking grills cause more than 6,000 fires, kill five people (and injure more than 170 others) and destroy about $35 million in property according to records compiled by the National Fire Data Center of the U.S. Fire Administration.”  Obviously, it is an intricate problem!  So why is it that my landlord is so unconcerned?  When I asked for assurance of precautions she doesn’t address the smoking or BBQs on balconies at all, saying instead,

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