A very scary Hallowe’en morning indeed!

While looking out my window as I sipped coffee, I noticed a bit of smoke not too far away.

Oh, I thought to myself, someone’s lucky enough to have a fireplace on this damp, gray day!

Then I looked again, about a minute later, and saw this:

Definitely NOT curling smoke from a chimney!

Definitely NOT curling smoke from a chimney!

A minute later, I was still unable to determine what was on fire.

A minute later, I was still unable to determine what was on fire.

But a minute later, at 9:32 AM, I knew exactly where the now-huge flames were climbing!

But a minute later, at 9:32 AM, I knew exactly where the now-huge flames were climbing!

By 9:34 AM, the Chicago Fire Department was already at the scene...

By 9:34 AM, the Chicago Fire Department was already at the scene…

...their hoses streaming water under drizzly skies.

…their hoses streaming water under drizzly skies.

It took the better part of half an hour before the fire was struck, as little areas of thick smoke would appear, then be dissipated.

Quick action by the firefighters saved this building…

...a Sheridan Road former mansion now owned by the Unification Church.

…a Sheridan Road former mansion now owned by the Unification Church of Chicago.

I didn’t walk around to the back when I went over at 4:30 this afternoon (it was raining and my lens kept fogging up), but I’m certain the place has had not only fire damage, but is also soaking wet inside.

You can find the story here.

The cause?

Apparently, a space heater sparked from the electrical outlet, setting a mattress on fire.

The lesson to be learned?

If you are using a space heater, as many who live in older Chicago buildings are forced to do, PLEASE keep it away from any furniture, clothing, curtains, etc.

NEVER use an extension cord with a space heater; plug it directly into the electrical outlet!

SAFETY FIRST,  or your home could end up looking like this:

Unification Fire-7

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Day interrupted

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:

23MAY2013 Fire-1

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23MAY2013 Fire-2

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23MAY2013 Fire-3

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23MAY2013 Fire-4

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23MAY2013 Fire-5

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.

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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 Culprit!"

“The Culprit!”

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:

Someone's laundry, burned to a crisp!

Someone’s laundry, burned to a crisp!

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!

Oh, my…3:45 AM and I’m still awake! SMOKY!

Not due to me, but to my neighbor’s (two doors down) who decided to have a kitchen fire at 2:30 in the morning!

I’ve been doing some heavy Spring cleaning, which has included my keyboard.  I am working hard, here in Chicago, trying to not hurl!

Apparently, his ‘girlfriend’, who happens to be the mother of his 4 yr old daughter who lives with him, started the fire.  Thanks, stupid biyotch, because I’ve met her and she seems to be one.

He has had the police banging his door very late at night…stupid guy would not answer until they (the CPD) threatened to break down the door.  Just to be real PC about everything…as an artist, I can rightfully say, “Black is one of the colors of trouble, here in Chicago”.

Four apartments on the 6th floor were placed in jeopardy…due to the negligence of this recent occupant.  Thankfully, the Chicago Fire Department responded almost immediately.

An artist friend used to live in that small studio, so I am well-acquainted with the space (and lack thereof).

Even two cones of Indian ‘LOTUS’ incense do not dispel the acrid odor!

I don’t know how I’ll be able to sleep…with that smell, that ugly smell!

I stuck an index card under his door which stated, “You should apologize to all your neighbors.”