Monday, July 06, 2009

4th of July fun and other excitement

Greetings all. Since my last entry, I took a quick trip up to Chicago in late June to see my sister and my nephews for a couple days. I got delayed by weather in Chicago flying up there, and the flights were packed both ways so I had to ride in the cockpit, but I had a good time. I did manage to catch a cold on the trip back, which is the second time this year that's happened. I think I need to start taking Airborne or something before I travel. Summer colds are no fun (not that winter colds are either) but I'm just about over it now.

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. I had a pretty good one myself, since I had the day off from work. I wasn't super productive, but I did get a couple chores done, and I also took my Mom out for dinner. We had Mexican food, which is her favorite. I thought about taking Mom to see the fireworks, but they didn't start until well after she usually goes to bed, and I didn't want to mess up her routine.

I live near a park that was having a big fireworks display, so when it got dark I walked to it. I'm still not completely used to living in a big city, even though I've been here for a few years now, but any time there is an event like this, which included a free concert, it's insanely crowded. People were parking all over the place, and illegally. I was glad I could walk and avoid the post-event traffic nightmare. The fireworks show was great and lasted about 30 minutes...I was close enough that I could see where they were launching from, and they played some synchronized music through the speakers that had been used for the concert.

All the walking was a good test for my knee, which seems to have completely recovered from my twisting it in late May. So, since my knee is better and I'm over my cold, I really need to start hitting the gym again. We will see how I do this month. I'm going to Yosemite at the end of the month on vacation so it would be nice to be able to do some hiking without getting completely exhausted.

Anyhow, nothing too exciting happened on the 4th. Yesterday was a different story, though. I went back to work yesterday afternoon but I was trying to get some minor chores out of the way before I got ready; one of those was taking the trash out. I noticed when I took out the trash that part of the dumpster appeared to be smoking slightly. I thought that was odd but I didn't do anything about it at the time. However, when I went outside a few minutes later, I saw that the dumpster that had been smoking now had started burning. I grabbed an extinguisher next to my apartment and put out the flames and shut the dumpster lid, but there was still a lot of smoke going. I went to the office to let them know, but there was nobody there yet, since they don't open until noon on Sunday.

When I came back outside, the dumpster was smoking even worse, so I called 911 on my cellphone, the first time I've ever had to do that. They transferred me to the local fire department, which took my information down and said a truck would be there right away. One of my neighbors came outside and seemed relieved to hear I'd already called 911. Right after I called 911, my cellphone's battery died, so I was unable to take any pictures, but I'm very glad it lasted until I was finished with the phone call. The dumpster that caught on fire can be seen, pre-fire, in the left of this picture, beside the big crate my furniture from New Mexico was shipped here in.

My neighbor and I were waiting for the fire truck to show up when the lid to the dumpster collapsed in (made of plastic) and flames started shooting up. Having emptied the first extinguisher already, I went running to grab another one, but by the time I had it in hand, the fire department had showed up, along with my apartment manager. The firemen did a very professional job, donning full gear, including oxygen masks, before drowning out the fire with foam and water.

To the fire department, this probably was a very minor fire and a nice training exercise, but I was a bit freaked out. Adrenalin rush, I suppose. Anyhow, they moved the extinguished dumpster out away from the wall, hosed down the adjacent dumpster a little bit with water to make sure no sparks had jumped over to it, and I opened up the exit gate for them so they could leave.

My apartment manager asked around and soon discovered the fire was caused by someone who had been barbecueing outside by the pool...they had decided to dump the charcoal from their barbecue into the dumpster while it was still smoldering. Not a very smart move, but at least I noticed the fire right when it started, so it didn't spread to the other dumpster, or the adjacent wooden wall.

Hope everyone had an enjoyable and SAFE holiday weekend, and remember to be careful when you're grilling.


Heather Meadows said...

Good job reporting the fire!

Yosemite, eh? I've never been there. I really haven't been very far west at all...I made a long car trip to Austin, Texas once and that's about it. I need to see more of the US!

Your mom has good taste; Mexican food is awesome.

Suldog said...

Well, you're somewhat of a hero! Who knows how long it might have burned, or what it might have set off, had you not been the one to call it in? Good job!