wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
[personal profile] wwcitizen
Today at 9 AM, the taxi is coming to pick us up to go to the airport. It's 5 AM and I'm wide awake after 2 hours of sleep? Why? Thunder. In March. At 4:50 AM.

Why should THAT be a problem?

The day after we returned from New Orleans, we slept really late. Had a great day doing nothing. Ordered Chinese that night because we had colds and wanted lots and lots of soup - 12 quarts to be exact - for the weekend. It was wonderfully relaxing and filling, especially with no other groceries in the house when we didn't want to go out.

At about 7:30 PM, the building's fire alarm went off. Thing is, in the 3 weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, there had been about 5 other fire alarms in the building all false alarms or tests of the fire alarm system. We always ignore them, actually. The doormen typically come on the loud speaker, too, and tell us they're false alarms. They always are - in the almost 6 years I've live here. The alarm kept going and at one point, over the loud speaker, the doorman announced, "Please stay in your apartments until further notice. The fire department is on its way."

We thought, "That couldn't be a fire. Not tonight. Not in our building. We just got back from a huge party!" We didn't see any firemen or smell any smoke.

At 11:15 PM, we got a message from a new friend we'd met during Mardi Gras, who lives in Manhattan, saying, "Um, are you guys OK? There's a fire in Cliffside Park in a high rise on the news. Is that your building?"

Matt and I did the Mo and Curly realization head turn and immediately started running through the online news wires for any news about it. Nothing turned up and the fire alarm in the building kept buzzing. Another friend saw the news and emailed us at about midnight. We guessed there must have been a fire or something.

At 2 AM, a pseudo-hot cop (made more interesting only via gray/blue polyester) knocked on the door with an EMT to tell us that we had to evacuate. Sure enough, on the west wing (we're on the east wing - whew!) a couple of floors above ours, there had been a fire. They were evacuating people so that the firemen could come through and assess any damage. We were compliant and started getting dressed, but he knocked back on the door and said that we didn't have to go because the fire wasn't on our side of the building. Still, Matt and I were kind of pissed that we were being asked to leave, rather than stand in our living room when they came to inspect. Why would we have to leave??

The next morning, Matt's sister called our phone (we didn't pick up), his cell phone (he didn't get up), my cell phone (I didn't hear it - it was in my jacket), and then our home phone again - which Matt picked up finally. "Are you guys OK? There was a fire in your building last night!! And you weren't picking up! We were worried and about to get in the car."

Matt apologized and told her our night's experience, and that we couldn't find any news about it. The front desk called shortly after Matt's sister to tell us that the elevators weren't available for a while (no time limit). After I got out of bed, I called the front desk to find out about the fire. LOTS and LOTS of water damage on the 4th floor down to the lobby. The 4th floor apartments were trashed with water damage. There was a lot of hubbub in the lobby that we could hear over the phone (unusual), so we decided to stay in the apartment. We actually didn't leave our apartment from Thursday through Sunday afternoon. Thank GOD for Chinese take-out!!

So, this morning's thunder woke me up. Guess what I was thinking and picturing in my mind's eye for a good 15 minutes making my heart race. Yep. Exactly!

"Is the oven on? Did I unplug the toaster? I have to remember to unplug the toaster. Did Matt turn off the laptop in the living room? Gotta do that. Taxi's here at 9:00. Did I pack a sweatshirt? Do I smell smoke? How about umbrellas - check. That's thunder. Yeah, that's thunder - but in MARCH? At [peeking out at the clock] 4:45 AM? When's the fire alarm gonna go off? It's not a fire; that's thunder..." and so on and so forth.

Green House Fire
Wednesday, March 4 2009
"...As many as 125 firefighters responded to a fire in a 26-story building on February 27, 2009 that left four injured and kept residents of more than 40 units out of their homes. Around 7:30 p.m. fire units were dispatched to the Greenhouse Condominium on Anderson Avenue where a caller reported seeing flames inside of an upper floor window. At around the same time the fire alarm on the 8th floor was activated. First arriving Police Officers Ralph Marciano and Jackie Flanagan went to the 8th floor to investigate and found smoke coming from a west wing apartment. They located a woman in the apartment in a heavy smoke condition and had to convince her to leave and escorted her out to safety. Battalion Chief Teddy Tarabokija was right behind the officers, began a primary search and located the seat of the fire and notified Fire Chief Anthony Lupica. Lupica could see the glow of red within the apartment window from Anderson Avenue and notified communications to transmit a High Rise Task Force second-alarm assignment. The high-rise task force assignment was recently established within the East Bergen mutual aid departments and this was its first activation since its inception (yeah, thanks, lady!). A total of 24 fire companies from 12 East Bergen and mid-Bergen County departments converged on Cliffside Park, some reporting to the scene and others covering the municipality at fire headquarters. In addition, ambulances from 9 local towns plus ALS units reported to the scene. Officials stated the fire started in the bedroom area of the apartment and extended into the living room.“We had to evacuate the floor above the floor below,” said Chief Lupica.
Members of Engine 6 advanced the first hand line into the apartment, backed up by a second line from Engine 3 to knock down the flames. Other firefighters were assigned to search and handle calls for assistance by residents in their apartments. Firefighters evacuated residents with special needs because of the smoke, heat and other conditions. Dozens of people that ran out of the building were sheltered in a NJ Transit bus that was summoned to the scene and located on Anderson Avenue. Assisting the Cliffside Park command post was the Leonia Fire Department’s field communications unit. Teaneck’s Box 54 Club set up a rehab station on the north side of the fire building. Hackensack’s Mask Service Unit, part of the task force, filled numerous air bottles at the scene.
The fire was brought under control in about one hour according to the chief and its cause is under investigation (the little lady that lives in the apartment had a lit candle next to her OPEN window between drapes!!! is what we heard from other residents...). Initially 49-apartments in the building were rendered uninhabitable because of “various conditions of damage,” Lupica said, but residents of some of those units were able to return during the evening. The occupant of the fire apartment, Police Officer Flanagan and two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.“Everyone did an out standing job,” said Chief Lupica."

View of the fire from the front/west of our building (which is perpendicular to the main road):

View of the fire containment from the fire crews:

View of the fire ending from the south side of the building

Scary to think that with all those crews, all those firemen, and all the commotion on the street, we didn't hear anything but the fire alarm. Simply amazing.


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Stephen Lambeth

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