One sunny and windy Saturday afternoon (May 22, 2010), Seo and I left my apartment to do a little shopping in Visalia.
Upon returning to my apartment, we decided to start dinner. The oven was set to preheat and Seo started to prepare the Talapia. As I was sitting on the couch, I started to smell a weird plastic smell. I asked Seo if we had forgotten to take something out of the oven before we turned it on. He checked; it was empty. I started to roam the house searching for the origin of the burnt plastic smell, but didn’t find anything.
I stood in the living room wondering what I was missing, when we both saw a huge black cloud of smoke pass by the back patio door. Something was on FIRE!
We ran out the front door and saw that my neighbor’s roof was on fire. His daughter was in their car crying and as he ran out of his front door and yelled “My apartment’s on fire! I’m getting out of here!”
He then jumped into his car and left. Seo and I ran back into my apartment to get the keys to our cars so that we could move them onto the street and out of the way for the Firemen. I called 911 and told them my address, and other neighbors started to arrive with water hoses and did the best they could at spraying the fire on the roof. One girl had a bucket of water and Seo told her that she wasn’t going to do much good with that and as she threw the water up it arched and almost hit another guy that was spraying the roof with the water hose. Seo thought to himself, “I told you so.”
After about 10 min the Fire Department arrived. They moved us all out to the street while they started to bring in their equipment. I was almost certain they would be able to put out the fire before it spread to my apartment. About 15 minutes later a representative from the Red Cross told us that because the attics between my neighbors apartment and my own were connected, the fire spread, and the firemen were in my apartment tearing out the ceiling trying to put out the flames.
He took us back enough so that we could see what was going on, and you could see flames coming out of the far South part of my roof….I thought everything was lost, but then I saw firemen coming out with parts of my bedroom furniture, dresser, mirror, boxes. It was amazing! They were trying to salvage some of my belongings. One fireman came up to me and said that they had placed tarps over everything that was in the spare bedroom, which I was using for storage, so that it would minimize some of the water and smoke damage, but that the fire had gone through all of the attic.
Brian, one of the employee’s of Buhl properties, which I rent from, arrived. He said that they had an empty apartment with a garage that I could use to store my belongings and be able to stay in until they were able to find me another place to live. I thought that was very nice of them.