dennis s. hurddennis s. hurd

Monday, May 24, 2021

A Little Too Close for Comfort

The Fire from our Balcony 
Jay got up first after being awoken by some noise from upstairs. He heard what sounded like rain hitting the window. It was actually a fire pumper pouring water on the blaze in a building next to ours. It was a little after five in the morning and I realized that something was amiss when I heard our white-noise fan turn off. Usually, this happens automatically at 7:30 am. It was just seconds before someone pulled the alarm in our buildings. We rushed to put on suitable clothes and escape via our nearest stairwell.
  Heritage Grill Building Burns Heritage Grill Building Burns 
Most residents congregated in front of our building on Carnarvon Street, on the opposite side of our buildings. However, everybody wanted to get a better look at what was happening. So, we walked down Fourth and along Columbia Street which was already closed and remained that way for the entire day. 

We were given the go-ahead to return to our apartment.  The elevators and emergency lighting were on.  After a few hours, it looked like the fire was under control but the building was over 100 years old. It housed The Heritage Grill, several other restaurants, a tattoo parlour and a nightclub. It was built way before current fire codes and had undergone many renovations over the decades which left dead-air spaces and layers of old building materials. Fire hid in these sections and would reignite the blaze.
  The Fire from our Balcony The Fire from our Balcony

Initially, the roof collapsed and hours later the second floor. In the middle of the afternoon, some heavy equipment came to knock down all the remaining walls. Firefighters kept multiple hoses dousing the remains for hours. In fact, it really wasn't really under control until after 6:00 pm. I must commend how well organized not only the fire fighting but all the city responses. By 6:30 the electrical repair crew had restrung the nearby poles and allowed our own buildings' power to return. We'd been without our main Internet, TV or refrigeration for nearly 13 hours! By seven, the area had been tidied up by a small bucket loader and a temporary fence installed. Traffic was reopened on Columbia Street by 8:30. 

Now the building is only a part of New West history.


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