This happened right around the corner from my apartment yesterday afternoon. Freaky.
I got home around a quarter till 5. I had about an hour to kill before I had to head out to an alumni association meeting, so I thought I'd check some e-mail and maybe go to the library to pick up some books on hold, blah blah blah. I start to hear the sirens while I'm drifting between the bathroom and the bedroom, getting washed up, changing clothes, etc. The sirens keep getting louder, and I freak out a little. Is my building on fire? Maybe I'd better hurry up and get dressed!
I look out my kitchen window, and the fire trucks are parked down the street. I can see light smoke coming from one of the houses. There are some kids and adults hanging out on the sidewalk in front of the new school, checking out the action. I think, Standing around watching the firemen work does sound like fun, and head out to join the rest of the neighborhood.
I see someone I recognize, and we chat a bit. I asked her if she saw the car crash on Sunday — which actually happened almost right in front of the house that was now on fire. She said she missed that one because she was already in her robe. I filled her in: Around 9 pm, there was a loud thump, the squeal of brakes, and a thud. I was on my way out for a walk then anyhow, so I got a good look as I went by. It seemed as though car A was backing out of a driveway and was hit by car B, whose driver couldn't see car A because someone else had parked their minivan on the street. Car B must have been going pretty fast, because I think they were waiting for the ambulance or other backup to arrive before they tried moving the driver of car B. But that's just my theory. She said she'd get the scoop from some of the other neighbors.
Anyhow, then she says that she hopes the lady who lives in the house got out, but she doesn't see her anywhere. The car is in the driveway, and the next-door neighbors are going in and out of their homes, but no one seems to belong to the house on fire. I wonder if the fire started in the kitchen, because that seems to be where the flames are. (Well, they're shooting out a window at the back of the house, overlooking the driveway. I'm assuming that's the kitchen.) She says that it looks like it's more than just a kitchen fire. Meanwhile, the firemen are smashing all the upstairs windows, and the flames shooting out of the back window are melting the siding on the side of the garage.
More and more people wander over — one guy said he was afraid the new school (which was finished just in time for school to start this week and is directly across the street from the burning house) was on fire. By this time, the entire street is filled with fire trucks: Fairview Park, Rocky River, Bay Village, Westlake, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls . . . Name a suburb, it was represented. I thought about going home to get my camera, but then I start to get a little nervous about how I'm going to get to my meeting. The cops have blocked all traffic from entering that section of the street, and the ambulance was partially blocking one end of my driveway.
About ten minutes later, once the bulk of the flames are out, I decide that I'd better get going. I see a few more people from my apartment building as I work my way down the block, and I talk to them for a bit about the fire and the car crash. This is the most excitement this street has seen in years, let me tell you.
I heard the news chopper overhead as I got my stuff together for my meeting. I went out the back way and cut down some side streets to make it past all the emergency vehicles. The street was still blocked off when I got back a few hours later, but everything was clear when I went to work in the morning.