Well, now Electric Six can add to their lyrics: "Fire in Janice's Apartment Complex"! Well, it's a little unwieldy to sing, but the point is...there was a fire in our building Sunday afternoon!
I was sitting on the couch using the laptop and Mike was in the other room. Suddenly, I heard someone scream, "FIRE! FIRE!". Oddly enough, my first instinct was to look out the window towards neighboring buildings. But then I noticed that passers-by were staring at my building. Lemme tell you, that was a grave moment. I started down the hallway to find Mike, and as I passed the front door of our apartment, I could smell smoke. I started to freak...
"Mike?" I called, as calmly as I could. "Uh, I think there's a fire in our building..."
Mike, ever the level-headed one, acted quickly. "I'll grab the cat carriers. Let's get the cats and get out of here."
Ethel had been laying on the couch with me earlier, and was now down on the floor, looking wary. Mike said it looked like she could tell something was going on, and she was beginning to scamper behind the couch. But I couldn't help herd her into her carrier, 'cause I had to find and scoop up Tobin.
As I've mentioned before on the site, Tobin is very sensitive and shy. He has these special little hide-y places in our home where he likes to sleep and just hang out. I knew one of them was in my sewing room behind my drawers of fabric. It was the first and last place I checked, 'cause as I peeked around the drawers, I saw his fuzzy face staring back up at me looking very concerned.
As cheerfully as I could, I tried to coax him out. "Tobin, sweetie...come here...please?" He just stared. I realize now he could probably smell the smoke and hear the stomping of our neighbors' feet down the stairwell. Like I said, he's sensitive. And I should also mention at this point that he's a total Mama's boy. I'm sure that, despite my best efforts to sound like everything was okay, he could hear the shakiness in my voice. Especially as I started to get desperate... "Tobin!!! PLEASE! Come here!! NOW!--- uh, please???" Tobin just kept staring.
I realized now was not the time for good manners. I jerked the drawers out of the way and tried to grab him. Tobin freaked, slipped out from my hands, and sped to the bedroom. I quickly sped after him and entered the room, watching as his tail zipped beneath the bed. Oh, great.
I fell to my knees and my eyes desperately scanned between the darkness and the dustballs. Finally his green eyes glinted and I met his frightened gaze. "To-biiiin?" I tried to sing-song in a friendly soothing manner, but my panic came out in every syllable. And then, Tobin hissed at me!
Now, this is pretty shocking for sweet docile Tobin. For those of you who know us personally, this is sort-of akin to hearing Mike yell a profanity. For those of you who don't know us personally...(uh, lemme think of a suitable analogy)...I guess you could say it's sort-of akin to Tom Hanks admitting he's a cannibal? Yeah, it just. wouldn't. happen.
Even though Tobin is twice the size of Ethel, she totally pushes him around and Tobin meekly lets her. He's such a...well, a pussycat! So, when he hissed, not only was it totally uncharacteristic, it was also...quite pathetic. Instead of coming off as menacing or threatening, as I'm sure he intended it, he sounded like an 80-year-old man weakly exhaling. I would've laughed about it had the situation not been so serious. (Although, obviously now, I find it hi-LAR-ious!)
"Okay, Tobin, I'm not messing around. Come HERE!"
He was so far back under the bed, I couldn't quite reach him, so I took one of my under-the-bed sweater boxes and started using it to prod him out. Panicked, I called for Mike. At that moment, Tobin made a break for the hallway, where Mike headed him off and swooped him up. The two of us managed to get him inside the cat carrier, and we grabbed the two kitties and ran down the stairwell.
Thankfully, we live about a block away from a fire station, so the fire truck was already there and the firemen had already extinguished the fire. We live in a four-story building and our apartment is on the top floor. The fire was in an apartment on the second floor, on the other side of the building. And thankfully, the flames didn't spread very far. THANK GOODNESS!!!
Relieved, I sat down on the concrete in the parking lot, peeking into the carrier to check on the kitties. Tobin was huddled up in a big furry mass of fear. Ethel was fiercely upset, meowing loudly and pressing her face up to the grill of the carrier door.
As we waited for permission to re-enter the building, we actually got to meet some of our neighbors, which was really nice! It seems like everyone has a cat (or two, or three!), so we had lots of kitty stories to share. Most people had come downstairs with their cats, too. One lady lamented that she wasn't able to get her cat out from under her bed, and worried out loud about what would've happened to her kitty had the fire spread across the building. One of our nice neighbors replied sweetly, "We'd come help you!" I was so reassured to know that we lived with lots of fellow animal lovers.
And then one of the firemen walked over and announced that they had not only extinguished the fire, but that they had tested the air to make sure it was okay for us to breathe, and that everything was okay and we could all go back home. Yay!!! The nice fireman noticed our cat carriers and talked to us separately, explaining that since cats are more sensitive than humans, they might sneeze a bit throughout the night and not to worry too much about it. He then politely wished us a good night in spite of the fire, adding, "The Simpsons are gonna be on in about half-an-hour, so that's something to look forward to!" : D Yeah!!! Seattle firemen ROCK!!!
So, that was our Sunday night drama. Ethel, being the strong resilent type, bounced back immediately, rubbing on my feet blissfully soon after we got back home. Tobin, being the sensitive one, slinked away with his tail hung low when we let him out of his carrier. He quickly returned to his favorite hide-y spot behind the now-helter-skelter fabric drawers, but by the time it was bedtime (Tobin's favorite time of day), he was snuggled up next to me and feeling okay.
Today, we found out what happened: apparently our neighbor ignited a mattress with a cigarette. Upon waking up and finding the mattress smoldering, the resident attempted to drag the mattress outside to the parking lot to let it burn out there. (No, I'm not making this up!) The mattress only made it as far as the exterior walkway, where it ignited the side of the building. And thankfully, no one was harmed and the fire and smoke damage is generally limited to the second floor. But still, it was pretty traumatic not knowing what was going on and being so worried about the cats. I'm amazed I was able to kind-of handle it...I'm kinda flakey and ditzy and overly-emotional...I always figured I would have a meltdown and curl up in the fetal position and just start rocking. But, you know, I love my kitties, and it just kinda gave me focus. So, happy ending!!! :)