Last night was the coldest night of the entire year. The temperature was around -30 degrees. Not a very good night for a fire.

Renée and I were sitting in the living room last night, working on school stuff and studying. Renée had a Spanish exam the next day that was worth a fair portion of her final mark, and I had some work-related stuff I needed to get through.

We originally thought that the smoke smell was from our radiators. When we first turn them on we can usually smell a slight woody, smoky smell as the pipes warm up. The sight of smoke pouring out of one of the wall power outlets, however, soon made us realize that this wasn’t going to be a normal evening.

With the level of smoke streaming out of the outlet alarming both of us, I called 911 and pulled the fire alarm for the apartment. We hustled our cats into their carriers, put on our jackets, and were just about to leave when the firemen arrived. It took them just barely a minute from when I called 911 to when they arrived at the front door - pretty impressive.

About six or seven fire fighters came upstairs and asked where the problem was. I brought them to the smoking outlet, and the lead fireman called for an evacuation of the entire building. We scurried out into the frigid evening, cats in tow.

Luckily the fire wasn’t severe, and was put out quickly, but in the process the firefighters ripped some rather large holes in the wall, and destroyed the majority of one wall’s baseboards. The source turned out to be a light fixture in the apartment directly below us which had shorted out, causing an electrical fire in the ceiling / floor between our apartments.

I spent most of the evening running back and forth from the doorway of a nearly building and our apartment, trying to figure out how bad the damages would be, and if we would be able to get back into our apartment that night. Because of the smoke, and the fact that the power for our apartment was shut off due to the fire, we had to spend the evening at Renée’s mother’s.

All told, the whole event turned out to be more of an annoyance than anything, but I’m thankful that we were home, and that the fire was put out quickly. Our building is very, very, old, and the size of the response from the fire department (8 fire trucks, two Manitoba Hydro vans, three police cars, and around twenty firemen tromping around in our apartment) showed that it could have been much, much worse.

Beat: Apartment insurance is a very good thing.

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