Wednesday, August 13, 2003
You would've been forgiven for thinking it was a block party.
Dozens of people - some with strollers, dogs and young kids in tow, and beverages in hand gathered to see the flashing lights and smoke of this loud, colorful gathering. They came on foot, on skateboard, or scooter and bike - because the street and alleys were blocked off for last night's event.
What caused all this ruckus?
The house two buildings down on Winthrop Avenue caught fire at around 9:30pm last night. The Chicago F.D. set up a bus-like Command Van right outside our apartment window so we had a perfect view. About 7 fire trucks arrived, not including ambulances, fire SUV's and police cars. That's a lotta brass for our narrow residential one-way street, only wide enough for two rows of parked cars, one traffic lane and one bike lane usually occupied by cars with their blinkers on ("temporary parkers," who couldn't find a space).
Oddly, the mood was cheery and almost circus-like. I saw neighbors chatting, kids laughing and riding bikes only feet away from swollen hoses and red, gold, and blue strobing lights. Every few minutes another fire truck arrived announced by its harsh, blaring horn and siren, discharged black-and-yellow-clad firefighters, then added its mighty diesel thrum to the massed cacophony.
I don't think anyone was seriously hurt...we did see one firefighter with what looked like an eye or facial injury being taken into a waiting ambulance.
I could never figure out that house, the one that burned...it's adjacent to our gated parking lot, rather dark and Victorian looking...we never see people coming or going, only the sounds of occasional windchimes and the sight of incongruous orange and magenta holiday lights (it seems odd to just call the "Christmas Lights" any more, since they come in all colors for any occasion).
Someone next to us on the sidewalk said that someone had seen a person running out of the building a few moments before the fire broke out, but you know how that goes...he said somebody said that someone else said, so I'm not about to chalk it up to the neighborhood arsonist.
But, you just never know what extremes people will go to for kicks.