A Sobering Reminder

Yesterday, my sweetie’s apartment building went up in flames. Luckily, no one was injured. However, 70 residents (mostly elderly) are without a home until further notice.  My Significant Other heard the fire alarm go off and went outdoors to investigate. This building is prone to false alarms.  In the minutes that L stepped out of the building people started to stream out. The fire department arrived simultaneously, The story is that  the apartment nearest the fire triggered the smoke detector. It was unoccupied at the time. However, a tenant heard the endless buzzing and summoned the super.  He entered the apartment and faced a blaze, and yelled for the tenant to pull the fire alarm and call the fire department. My sweetie called (from a stranger’s cell phone) to give me the news. Standing in shock, without a jacket, ID, keys, or Meerah the cat, L was not allowed to return into the building.  Most residents were housed by the Red Cross at a local arena.  Meerah? L was told that all cats would be collected by the SPCA’s staff, once the fire fighters declared it safe, with the most vulnerable (nearest the danger)  being rescued first.  Dazed and without a worldly possession,  L learned this morning  that little Meerah had been rescued last night,  then taken to the SPCA  Emergency shelter until morning, then transferred to a vet across town for examination. The cat was treated for dehydration and returned to the SPCA shelter where she remains with the other rescued cats until further notice.  A friend of ours who lives in the same building and who was also forced to leave her cat behind, learned, to her horror this morning that somehow her cat was not in the apartment when the SPCA rescue team went in to find her.

Last week, L checked my smoke detector when I complained that it should have gone off after I dropped food on the stove’s burner and did not.  L urged me to report it. I did so quickly (I am the ultra-prepared person when it comes to potential disaster). My big mistake, was not insisting that it be checked immediately by an electrician. So, today, after my seven thousand phone calls on L’s behalf (to the Insurance, the Red Cross, the SPCA, the EMO…) I picked up the receiver to make one more call; “come fix this thing today or I will call the fire Marshall”, I advised my landlord very forcefully. My defective smoke detector was taken away and a new one installed by an electrician within 1 hour.

There are some things too precious to conceive loosing,  including my animals’ lives and my own.  I urge you all to check your smoke alarms immediately. If you do not have a kit ready to take out your door when a fire alarm goes off, get one together. Include ID, medication, important numbers and papers…anything you would need to evacuate.  Have a plan to evacuate WITH your animals and be ready to do so any time the alarm goes. Know where the carrier is for your cat. Be ready to get it out quickly, loading it with the cat, gathering the bag and dog and getting  OUT.  Practice doing so until you can do it in your sleep.


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