This morning we were able to get into the apartment and see what we could salvage.
The process was supposed to begin at 9AM, but my landlord was late. He arrived around 10ish with a smile on his face, “I forgot and went to the gym,” he said jovially.
“No. No fucking smiles. This isn’t bloody funny,” I said.
“Really?” he asked, befuddled. Usually I’m pretty easy-going, but lateness irks me, particularly professional lateness. He let us in soon after, apologizing profusely.
Sarah’s friend Damien volunteered to accompany me up to the third floor while Sarah waited down in the car. Upon entering the building, we were assaulted by a woody, smoky scent that permeated everything. I walked up to the second floor and saw the apartment where the fire started; the linoleum was scorched to a crème brûlée brown. A hole gaped in the center of the floor, and wide, black swaths covered the walls. The floor was clear of debris, probably due to the collection of evidence.
We continued up to the third floor; I donned my dust mask and prepared for the worst.
A ramp of debris that looked like road salt led into the apartment. I looked to the right where we hung our coats and saw a wide hole that afforded me a view of the neighbor’s apartment. I turned left and gingerly walked into the apartment. I looked into our pantry and saw our spices burned black as night. Sarah’s comics boxes were soaked, but the comics were intact.
The kitchen was covered in about an inch of debris, hiding the cats’ food bowls so I could only see the brim. Our coats were placed on the kitchen table; I presume that a courteous firefighter must have put them there before hacking a hole through the wall where they usually hanged. From the kitchen, I recovered several tiki mugs, my titanium spork, my Calphalon katana knife, Sarah’s Analon santokou, and a few other things.
I went into the bedroom. It was the saddest looking room. Our pillows and sheets were just as we left them. The bed was soaked and much of the drop ceiling fell on it. I recovered my pocket watches, MP3 Player, portable DVD player, regular DVD player, and all of Sarah’s jewelry, as well as her unmentionables that were in her drawer. Damien retrieved all of Sarah’s home made clothes and accessories. Robyn’s paintings were unscathed. The alarm clock, functioning on its emergency batteries, went off with its characteristic beep…beep…beep..beep..beep.beep.beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep (sort of like a bomb).
The computer room was a wreck. The door which led to the porch was open, and with all the wind and rain from yesterday, much of what was in the top layer in there was soaked. However, astonishingly, we were able to save most of the Christmas gifts. My Rock Band drums turned on, but not in the proper manner, so I shut them off, suspecting a short. I also got my kilt and formal wear. In the face of all the generous donations I have received, I decided to take only two casual shirts from my closet: my Western skull shirt and the T-shirt Justine painted for me.
In the parlour, several of our books were in good or excellent shape. Sarah’s Absolute Batman books were pristine, my journals were safe, and our scrapbook and an old photo album were safe. Sarah’s father’s cameras were safe as well. All of our Christmas ornaments were still in heavy duty totes and are safe. LEON is also intact. My PS3 might still work, but the TV is dead.
Sarah’s mother and brother arrived and urged us to secure more property. Chris (her brother) worked tirelessly to make sure that we managed to get everything we could. All told, we managed about 6 carloads of salvaged property. We will hit the cellar later in the week so I may be able to get my D&D miniatures.
All in all, it provided me with closure. We saved what we could, and discovered that there was a fair amount of our sentimental trinkets which were intact and functioning. By the time we left, the roof was showing signs of collapsing further, so I sounded the retreat.
After coming to terms with losing EVERY SINGLE THING, finding anything intact was exhilarating. I thought that the experience would be sad, but with each step, we found something that might be salvageable. I think it is a minor miracle thanks to the WFD and surrounding departments.
From what we were told by varied sources, the fire was caused by a squatter that was using candles to light the apartment he was staying in. From what was said, he was apprehended and questioned, and the fire was ruled as an accident. He has since disappeared.