This afternoon around 3:30 PM a house which is across the street and down two houses from the house next door to me caught(?) fire. (There is only a grassy triangle directly across from my house.) Suspicious origin! The young couple living upstairs have been doing a lot of arguing lately and this morning she packed up her and their little one’s clothes and left. They have a dog and a cat (both hers?). This afternoon the neighbors who live downstairs were standing outside smoking cigarettes (not allowed in the house) when they heard a series of loud thumps. Then the guy from upstairs came down, lit up a cigarette and they were all talking. The old woman from downstairs (grandmother to the guy downstairs) asked him about the loud thumping sound. He told her it was just his dog. She remarked that she never heard the dog make any sound - especially like that. He just brushed off her remark and started talking about other things. Suddenly, the smoke alarms started going off inside the building. The old woman told the girl from downstairs to run in and get her kids out while she called the fire department. Smoke was already starting to come out of the building! All of them walked across the street to the house next door from mine and watched as heavy thick black smoke began pouring out of the upstairs windows - except the guy from upstairs! Instead, he walked down to the corner and stood there, not even looking up at the scene.
Long story short (yeah right - if you know me!), 4 fire companies were at the scene. The upstairs floor was gutted from the fire with a good portion of the roof burned away and the downstairs sustained very heavy water damage. The houses on either side also caught fire at the base of their roofs. Those fires were quickly extinguished.
After interviewing the tenants from downstairs, it was learned that the guy from upstairs had threatened to commit suicide should his girlfriend leave him. The police picked him up from the corner. He’s currently in the psychiatric ward at one of the 3 hospitals in Albany (NY).
My wife had gone down to our house when the fire first started - I had just started napping (got that bad habit from Cagey! ) The firemen did bring out two cats from the downstairs flat safe and sound, but slightly on the terrified side. One of the firemen came over and asked my wife if she had a trash bag they could have. Thinking it was going to be a long fire and they would be having a lot of coffee, etc., she started to give her a kitchen trash bag but thought twice and retrieved a contractors’ trash bag (very large). She watched as the bag was brought inside (upstairs) and shortly after two firemen were carrying the bag back out. The bag was for the dog and the cat.
It hasn’t been verified yet, but everyone seems to think that the thumping sound the people downstairs was the sound of the dog getting his head bashed in. The cat must have ran and hid and succumbed to the smoke and fire.
The Red Cross arrived and put the downstairs family up in a motel, provided them with some clothing, food and some money. They’ll have to buy cat food, litter and a box for the cats as well as items and food for themselves. This family has lost everything, and to make matters worse they didn’t have renters’ insurance. I cannot understand why those renting don’t buy renters’ insurance. My daughter, who works for an insurance company, said it only costs US$125.00/year or US$12.50/month! Not much money if you have to replace all of your possessions.
I headed down to my house when my wife got back around 8:50 PM to clean the litter box, take care of her food and water, comb her hair and put the trash out for the morning pickup. One of our fire trucks was still at the scene as well as the State Fire Marshall with 2 dogs sniffing for both accelerants and drugs. They did find that the guy was growing marijuana upstairs, complete with grow lights. He also had a window air conditioner plugged into a lead cord instead of a wall outlet! By the time I left my house to head back to my son’s house it was 10:30 PM and the fire company, fire marshals, police and fire police were just heading out. Three local TV stations had been at the scene reporting as well.
I’ll be heading back down the first thing in the morning to give the landlord - a good friend of ours - a hand with boarding up the first floor windows and doors.