We both sat up at the same time asking what the hell that banging was. Finally we realised that someone was banging to get in and went downstairs to see smoke everywhere. Mr. P found his keys, which ironically are always kept by the door for this very reason except for last night, and opened the door. Tonnes of smoke. A fully kitted-out fire fighter came in shouting, “Stay here! I’m gonna push this fire out.”. So, not having any idea as to how big it was or where it was, we waited in the flat staying as near to the door as possible in case we needed to run out, but moving back as the smoke came in further. As we started to realise where we were and what was happening we could see stuff around us. I grabbed my cellphone. We put on shoes and jackets. Still waiting. Our door is at one end of the room, and at the other end is a ranch slider/ sliding glass door with a small balcony and a tree outside. We were thinking that it would be easy to go down that tree. This, I believe, kept us from panicking as the smoke came in. There were four fire engines, and eventually one left, so we knew things must be under control. We could hear lots of talking that sounded calm so we were starting to feel a bit more relaxed and reality was setting in as to what had just happened.
It was all so sudden. From a deep sleep hearing someone banging on the door, to seeing a fireman in the flat surrounded by smoke. He was a short bloke and I kept thinking how he looked like a Lego fireman, all triangles and rectangles. Anyway, I can say that I did NOT smell smoke and get woken up! This is what I always thought would happen because I am often a light sleeper. Our smoke alarm didn’t go off because it’s in our room. We have one downstairs but it’s not in a good place (we’re moving it) and the smoke wasn’t enough to set it off in our flat. The fire could’ve easily got up to our door before our alarms would’ve gone off. At some point Mr. P heard one of the fire fighters say something like, “Pull the fire alarm when you go down”, or “You should’ve pulled the fire alarm when you went down” to somebody. So, basically you can’t rely on other people. You’re really not thinking straight when it happens anyway. Take care of yourself. Have working smoke detectors everywhere and also have escape routes planned, anything you can do to keep yourself safe. And that includes when you are on holiday. When I think of some of the dodgy places we’ve stayed in around the world I can’t help but think how lucky we are. It’s not that I didn’t think about it, but you come to a point when travelling on a budget that you think, “Oh, it’ll be OK.”. Just choose wisely. I’m sad when I think of people who don’t make it out of fires, and especially, those they leave behind. One of my Flickr contacts, sadly, lost her brother and sister in law to a fire this year. I really feel for her and her family. Please take care in any way you can.
This morning there is a burnt out cooker on the pavement out front, so we know that somebody in number 30 was cooking late at night and somehow it got out of control. I’m so glad everyone is OK (there were no ambulances) but I really hope that bloke got a wake up call. I know we did!