How I watched my apartment burn — OR! — What do you grab in a fire?

Posted by

It’s one of those absurd questions you hear time & time again – what do you grab when the house is on fire? Let me tell you, it is not a moment born out of deep contemplation but the instant panic of loosing everything. First, my computer. On the couch. Then I turned around, grabbed my cell phone, keys, and finally my LC-A+ sitting on the counter top. The men were screaming louder now and between the knock on the door and me hopping over the broken glass of the fire extinguisher box: 12 seconds.

From emails to barefoot on the sidewalk: 30 seconds. Max. Wearing nothing but pink shorts and a white T-shirt, I looked up to the corner apartment and saw just how bad everything was. People were already gathered with their phones and cameras… there were no fire trucks. I started dialing friends and then my parents. No one tells you how difficult a touch-sensitive phone is to operate when your fingers are shaking.

One woman, Mo, from The Good Fellows recognizes my panic. She guides me to a neighbors’ house, Sandy & Hassam, consoling me that it would be okay. I was alive. It’s just ‘stuff’. I’m in between weeping and thanking her. She sits me on someone’s couch, bay windows overlooking Haight street, fills her palms with water and rubs it on my face. Like watching some awful movie, people are gazing upwards down the street and curls of gray smoke are passing by. There is nothing more infuriating that watching people watch your home get destroyed.

What happens next? I mean, you can presume there’s fire involved, right? Go read the rest on Tiffy’s blog. It’s…compelling.

Comments on How I watched my apartment burn — OR! — What do you grab in a fire?

  1. Her blog is heartbreaking and has donation info if you feel so moved.

    No one can accurately say what they “would do”, but ideally/hypothetically, I would:
    Put on Glasses
    Grab Husband
    Grab Dogs and Cat
    Grab Shotgun
    Grab Purse, which 99% of the time has my external hard drive and wallet in it
    Car Keys on a hook by the door
    This would take about 25 seconds.

    Get folder with passport and marriage license if there was time
    Get trash bag of old journals

  2. This has never been more apt. The Caughlin Fire in Reno took my home on Thursday night. We lost everything, and many of my rabbits. We had some valuables, some laptops, our two dogs, and two rabbits. Crazy

  3. I know this is really old, but i just stumbled on it. we keep a fireproof safe under the bed with our important papers in it (passports, etc), but i ALSO keep all my usb drives with photos in there. they’re small, they take up no space. Would the heat of the fire wreck them anyway? Maybe, but they’d stand a chance I think.

    A fire is devastating. My grandmother died at 80 as a result of burns sustained in a fire when she fell asleep in her chair holding a cigarette.

Read more comments

Comments are closed.