17 March 2010

Our building on fire

Quite a wake-up call this morning. We heard the neighbour's dog barking, and a lot of banging around from our downstairs neighbour, but it was 7 am and thoughts were more or less "what the hell... it's too early for this." Then another neighbour rang: "Do you know there's a fire? there's smoke coming out of a window." "Um no... we heard the dog barking but.... OK, we'll be right down!"

The scene on the street

I did not have presence of mind (alas) to whip out the camera until after the flames were put out, but there were flames, big ones, licking out of the fourth floor window right under our apartment.

No one was hurt. The little girl in the fourth floor apartment is pretty shook up, but she's all right.
Her bed, however, was brought out by the firemen and it was in cinders. Aren't mattresses flame-retardant? You could see where the foam and cloth had burned away, except on one end, all the way down to all tangle of metal springs. (That's the wooden frame in the photos above and below.)

The fire department was very thorough, very professional. One neighbour, though, said that when she had phoned them they answered in Dutch, and got very flustered when she replied in French. But surely you call 100 no matter what language you speak? Maybe soon we'll have the standard voice tree even for emergency services: "Si vous voulez continuer en français, tappez un. Voor het Nederlands, druk twee. If you just want someone to get the hell over and put out a fire, don't yell at me, I just work here....."

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