As is my wont, when the fire alarm sounds, I grab keys, phone and most importantly, the camera.
Today, with strong winds off the lake and under 50 degrees F. with a 40 degree wind chill factor, I also put on a winter jacket and baseball cap, exited and walked toward the back stair well, which I always use to exit the building.
I opened the stairwell door to SMOKE–acrid, electrical smelling smoke!
Taking a very deep breath, I hustled down the stairs…the smoke was worse the lower I stepped, causing me to take a breath into my jacket sleeve and proceed down the five floors.
At the third floor, my eyes began to burn and water, yet I continued and made my way out the back door, noting the panic on the maintenance man’s face as he rushed by.
Once outside, there was this:
I had tried to see into the lobby, but there was so much smoke, which was being blown right out the entrance doors.
I proceeded to the back, to get out of the chilling wind, and made my way into the back hall, which was still somewhat smoky after twenty minutes had passed.
One of the residents mentioned that the fire was in the laundry room, so, curious as ever, I snuck around the corner and took this image:
The large dryer (gas-operated, by the way!) had been pulled by the firefighters from its normal resting place way in the back corner.
I waited for the firefighter (at left) to leave, then walked cautiously into the laundry room, where I found this:
Just as I clicked, another firefighter came from behind, asking “Ma’am, who are you with?”
I replied I was a resident and that I catalog every fire in the building–but he sternly asked me to leave the area, and I did.
I walked back up the stairs with another neighbor and we chatted for quite a while, about problems with these machines which are owned by a company obviously more interested in collecting the money from the machines instead of regularly maintaining/testing them (there have been quite a few problems with this particular dryer in the past, and it’s the same one that’s been here since I moved into this building over six years ago!).
The smoky smell made me feel a little woozy…I napped under the covers for a bit because I had gotten so terribly chilled.
(I guess this old gal’s body really doesn’t respond that well any longer to a forty degree DROP in temperature in a less than a twenty-four hour period!)
I’m not certain if anyone was injured in any way, but I did see a gurney with an oxygen tank being rolled into the front entry…perhaps someone was a bit overcome, because that acrid smoke was just NASTY!!!
A special THANK YOU to our Chicago Fire Department firefighters…their response was very, very quick!