February 4th, 2013
The night we almost lost everything (Part 2)
Everyone knows “the drill” when a fire alarm wakes them up in the middle of the night. If you are in the Bay Area you usually think:
Either way, hearing a fire alarm in the middle of the night means that you’ve just been selected for an hour of making awkward conversations in pajamas with your neighbors you usually go out of your way to avoid.
Unfortunately, this time it was much different.
We woke up to a fire alarm in our apartment at 5:30AM. At first we thought “ok here we go” (see above), but even though it was early in the morning it was somehow “sunny” outside. Hmm.
We peeked out the window to see 50 people lining our street watching a light that appeared to be coming from a blazing orange sun just out of sight from our apartment window. That didn’t look good..but we thought “hay, let’s get our stuff and go see”.
First thing was first: we went to find Cat, which turned out to be impossible. She is our geriatric cat with 0 outdoor skills but somehow in that moment she somehow became a liquid and squeezed herself into a hiding place that we couldn’t even imagine (like cats do). We devastated our apartment looking for her but she had definitely won this game of hide and seek. Hoping that the potential “fire problem” was solving itself we peeked outside the window again. The orange light was much brighter than it was only a few minutes ago. This was real and this was happening now.
We had to go. We had to leave Cat and in that moment we felt like “failed cat parents” What a way to start a Saturday.
After we grabbed my violins we opened the door to see something that we didn’t think was possible: the close building directly next door was fully engulfed in flames. It was 2-3 stories taller than our building and was a complete wall of fire.
We ran out of the building and I was in tears before we got to the first floor. Even in a crowd of people in San Francisco, I stood out as the girl wearing an adventure time sweatshirt in hysterics over her cat. Not my best moment but for sure not completely out of character.
Some people stayed to see the world burn down but we wanted to get away from the smoke and vapors that the flaming building was giving off. We wandered the streets looking for a coffee shop that was open but first ended up in what turned out to be a local casino. No kidding it was 6 in the morning at that time and people were still going hard on their poker games. It was another world in there haha
Eventually, we ended up in a Starbucks with all of our neighbors, their kids, and their pets. I was still pretty upset about leaving cat so I tucked into my phone for a bit, but I wanted coffee. However, one of the things we forgot to bring was our wallets (DON’T FORGET YOUR WALLET IN A FIRE! DON'T DO IT!)....but I had a Starbucks app on my phone that I could use to pay for food + drinks because I’m resourceful like that I guess. It worked like a charm, and even if you don’t think you’ll ever be in a situation like this you should still probably get the Starbucks app just in case. My basic-ness had saved us!
While we were there one of our neighbors (who is an Architect) had a theory about how the fire happened. He noticed that the building next door burned down at about the same point in construction as it did 10 months ago when it burned down for the first time (ah, times were so simple back then). Both times the construction had all of the wood structure up but none of the drywall, which is a fire retardant. Essentially, when the building burned down it was always in the MOST FLAMMABLE state possible. Here's a fun fact: The first time it burned down was THE DAY we moved into our Apartment. The power was cut (because obvs) so we had to carry all of our belongings up 4 flights of stairs.
We're starting to see a pattern here. We all have our theories as to why this keeps happening, but if it was arson and they are reading this… please stop. (hey, it’s worth a shot)
After a couple of hours hiding out at Starbucks we were allowed to go back into our apartment to find Cat but even then we still couldn’t find her. We accepted defeat and she eventually wandered out to see us. We still have no clue where she went. We are moving soon so we’ll probably never know. I think she either visited “The Upside Down” or somehow willed herself into nonexistence for a few hours.
Cats are weird and fire is weird.
Here is a news article about this fire (if you are curious)
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