Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Surviving a Fire in the Building

Last night when I went up to my cousin to give Dahab back no one opened the door. So I assumed they must have slept and went back with the doggo to my place to get ready to sleep. A few hours later while mid sleeping, Dahab began barking, which woke me up. At the same time I found my phone ringing. I do keep it on silent during the night, yet could see the light blinking. Hm. This was about 3 am. I picked up to find my cousin saying: “There is a fire in the building. Come out. NOW! Oh.

I got dressed, took my backpack with a few essentials, Dahab, and opened the door to go down the stairs. There was smoke coming out, yet we proceeded to go down. On the floor below the smoke was coming out of my other cousin’s flat. Lots and lots of smoke. At the time, there was only one neighbour standing there then the doorman joined in. I finally understood that the fire is coming from in there and that my cousin is locked inside, somehow. 

Survival mode kicked in as I began ringing the bell and knocking while shouting her name. I didn’t know if she was asleep or awake, or even alive! Then I heard her call back, which was a relief. Another minute and the firefighters arrived. Three at start then more came in. So there we were Dahab and I standing in the smoke surrounded by at least 10 firemen. 

I wanted to help yet my hands were tied with Dahab. So I ran down the stairs to the outside of the building where his owners were standing. Apparently they were out rather than sleeping, and found the fire on their way back home. I left him and ran back up. Total survival mode, without much thinking. I needed to get my cousin and her Pug Princess out of the fire. 

The smoke was getting heavier, making it harder to breathe. Also the heat coming out of the flat was astounding.

Once up, I found that they had successfully broken the door and thankfully my cousin came out, utterly shocked and with an all black face. Yet she was unharmed. I took her down the stairs then remembered Princess. I asked her if she’s inside and if there anyone else, to which she said yes about the doggo and no she was alone. I’m sure it was quite the shock for her. 

So still in survival mode, still not much thinking, I went back up again, shouting to the firemen: “There is a dog inside! There is a dog inside!” Then at one moment I wondered how come the firemen are fine with me, a civilian, being inside the fire. Literally. This was my first time to be so close to such raging flames. But, I wasn’t going anywhere without Princess. 

Since the fire was electricity related, the flat was dark. The only lights was coming from the firemen’s flashlights.

By that time, using the hose had already put the fire out. Yet the smoke was still filling the area. Finally the fireman I was following into the bedroom came out with Princess. Phew. Poor girl was shaking and covered in black and was wet. I then held her in my arms and went down one more time to let her owner — who was about to leave in an ambulance — know that she was fine. I told her I’ll keep the doggo with me then left her close to Dahab so he comforts her.

Dahab didn’t stop barking when we were all down there

Then, my sense of responsibility compelled me to go up one more time as I didn’t want the firefighters — and the cops who eventually showed up — to be all alone up there. I also wanted to try to save her phone and wallet… maybe. I think the adrenaline rush due to survival mode was still there. I found the phone next to where the fire had started, but it was totally bunt as you can see in the photo below. I kept it, hopefully to save the sim card.

Being the only one up there, the cops and firefighters began asking me some basic questions: My cousin’s name, her age, and occupation, and all that. We tried to find her bag and wallet to get her ID, but it was nowhere to be found. Today in the light my mother did find the bag. It was burned as well, though a few IDs were saved.  


About an hour through, all residents started to go up one by one. So did Princess and I. But not before thanking the firefighters and the policemen for their help and professionalism. “Five more minutes inside and she would have been dead,” one of them told me. I believe him.

Once up, I had to give Princess a shower before trying to go back to sleep. During the shower and afterwards, she was licking my hands and legs like I am some sort of peanut butter jar. She had licked my hands before on multiple occasions, but once or twice at a time. Maybe it was her way of saying thank you. It was around 6 am by then.

First, I put her on the couch where Dahab often sleeps, but she kept moving around the bed, trying to get up. She’s too short to do it by herself, and I thought that she was probably still in shock, so I got her on the bed. A few minutes and she moved right by my legs. Cute.
Look at that face. Her tongue is usually sticking out all ridiculously but not in this capture.

Oh boy. What a night!

Two things to learn from this incident. First, doggos are angels. As without Dahab barking due to hearing the bell, I would have probably kept sleeping. If the fire had reached my flat I could have been seriously harmed.

The second thing is not to silent my phone at night. Because things do happen.

After waking up today I took Princess for a walk instead of Dahab who was out with his owners. She’s quite tiny and it’s probably my first time to walk such a small dog. I noticed that I had to walk slower than how I do with Dahab. I also got lots of funny looks. When a couple of street vendors buddies asked me: What is this? I jokingly replied that I put Dahab in the washing machine and he shrank!

Man. Grateful that we all made it safely.
4 firetrucks, 3 police vehicles that blocked both ends of the street, and an ambulance.
Great job, guys


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