Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ohio City House Fire

Last night I was riding down Franklin, on my way back from the Happy Dog, I approached a haze in the distance near W. 30 and the field at which we sometimes play kickball. Entering the cloud, I was inundated with the reek of woodsmoke. This triggered instantly the notion of fire. I turned down W. 32 to see about 10 firetrucks lined up along the entire length of the street.

I rode down to a hydrant with fire hose attached, living the dream, spraying streams of water down the street gutters. I stepped off my bike and crossed to the other side of the road and onto park space adjacent to the burning house.

A man in sweatpants and a white undershirt came to stand at my side. He said that it was a boarding house, and one of the tenants had fallen asleep with a lit cigarette, and there you had it. I simply nodded.

As a matter of coincidence, I had my digital camera and immediately took photos of the blaze, despite my better judgment. Then came memories of my old man and I, late into a night of my youth, on a street with a house burning down, opting to stay in and not rubberneck -- a term I heard for the first time then, in reference to those that glean inspiration and reality from tragedy.

I was tipsy, my judgment markedly skewed and I did not feel much guilt at my decision to record the event. Shortly thereafter, I witnessed several others snapping images or capturing video on cell phone cameras or more sophisticated equipment.

Scanning the crowd that had gathered, I began to posit those that have been a tenant in the house. A man in a football jersey, pajama pants and no shoes shifts uneasily back and forth. Bides his time between the sidewalk and a cab of a Cleveland pump truck.

I noticed my friend Dan with a few other guys on bikes. I drew alongside him, stated something about how crazy the whole thing was. He said that a friend of his had called earlier, told him to call the fire department as a house was definitely on fire. Dan's friend then rode down the street and roused the residents of W. 32. He was a hero.
* * *

The next day, I learned that two people perished in the fire.

UPDATE - 11/08/09 - 10:47 PM: Four people have perished in the fire. (Thanks to Thed for the update.)

Rest In Peace.



theodore said...

It's up to four people, now:

MikeS said...

Dude! Dude! Jane and I saw the huge smoke trail left by that thing when we drove back to my place. In fact, we drove through it on the shoreway. It certainly smelled like smoke. I figured it was a p bad house or warehouse fire.